Ras el Hanout

Author: Shelley Bennetts   Date Posted:4 April 2019 

Make your own spectacular Moroccan spice blend.

Take your Moroccan cooking to the next level! Ras el Hanout is a complex and distinctive spice mix. It is a staple in every North African kitchen used in tagines, soups, rubs and marinades in both meat and vegetable dishes.
 

 
Sure, you can buy ready-made Ras el Hanout that will do the job and probably taste adequate. But you’re going to taste a huge difference between that and a freshly made blend, especially if you start by toasting and grinding whole spices.
 
Common to all Ras el Hanout blends are cumin, cinnamon and ginger. Apart from those, the exact blend is at the discretion of the maker and can include cardamom, nutmeg, various peppers, turmeric, cloves, allspice, paprika and chilli. Some recipes go that little bit further to include even rose petals! Everyone it seems, has their own favorite combination of spices which can vary from just eight to fifty!
 
The Arabic name Ras el Hanout translates as ‘top-shelf’, implying that only the best spices available are used. If you’re going to make this traditional blend, to do it justice you’ll have to make sure that your spices are as fresh as possible and are the best quality you can afford, preferably organic. 
 
The recipe below requires twelve spices, including the salt. From this quite basic recipe, you can add or delete flavours to make it your own. You’ll notice the recipe calls for ground spices, but I encourage you to use whole seeds to toast and grind yourself for the most spectacular, robust flavour. My blog, Creating Your Own Spice Blends discusses the toasting and grinding process and the tools to use. 
 
So, gather your spices, get your heavy-based pan and your grinder ready and create your own signature Ras el Hanout spice blend!
 
 

Ingredients

(to make 2 tablespoons)
 
1½ tsp black pepper powder (or toast and grind yourself)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin seeds (or toast and grind yourself)
1 tsp ground coriander seeds (or toast and grind yourself)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or grate yourself)
¼ tsp ground nutmeg (or grate yourself)
¼ tsp ground cardamom seeds (or toast and grind yourself)
¼ tsp hot paprika
4 whole cloves (or toast and grind yourself)
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground allspice (or toast and grind yourself)
 
 

Method

 
Blend all the ground ingredients together and get cooking with your own version of Ras el Hanout for spectacularly authentic Moroccan dishes!
 
Tip: Store spice blends in an airtight container in a dark, dry place.