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This fascinating Moroccan spice blend is perhaps one of the most complex and secretive spice blends in the world. Moroccan spice merchants or souks take great pride in the quality and presentation of their spices and blends, none more so than ras el hanout. The name roughly translates as "top of the shop", Ras was the name given to an Ethiopian chief, or even more pertinently, the Arabic word for “head”

The souks jealously guard their recipe for ras el hanout and consider it to be their secret weapon in competing against other spice merchants

What makes ras el hanout so unique is the complexity of the blend. It will sometimes contain well over twenty individual spices and it takes great care to create a seamless blend. Some recipes are reputed to contain hashish and Spanish fly!

Ras el hanout is often used in meat braises, such as the tagines accompanying couscous dishes. The meats most often used are lamb or mutton and chicken

If you want to try making ras el hanout at home, here is a simplified recipe, but keep in mind that it won't be as complex as a blend purchased from a spice merchant, especially without the hash.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs paprika
  • 3 Tbs ground ginger
  • 3 Tbs cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp saffron stigmas
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Method

    Mix all the spices together, there is no need to grind the whole spices. Keep in an airtight jar, out of direct light for up to 2 months

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