Ras el hanout

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Morrocan Ras el hanout

Ras el hanout (lit: Head of the shop); (the best in the house, couscous spice, moroccan spice mix) is a popular blend of herbs and spices that is used across the Middle East and North Africa. The name means "head of the shop" in Arabic, and refers to a mixture of the best spices a seller has to offer.

There is no definitive set combination of spices that makes up Ras el Hanout. Each shop, company, person would have their own secret combination containing over a dozen spices. Typically they would include cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, paprika, coriander, cumin, mace, nutmeg, peppercorns, and turmeric.

Some recipes include over one hundred ingredients, some quite unusual, such as rowan berries, chufa, Grains of paradise, orris root, Monk's pepper - (an anaphrodisiac), cubebs, dried rosebud, and the potentially toxic belladonna (Deadly nightshade) and insects such as the beetle known as Spanish fly - (an aphrodisiac) - (however, the sale of Spanish fly was banned in the spice markets of Morocco in the 1990s). Usually all ingredients are toasted and then ground up together. Individual recipes are often improvised.

I use ras el hanout from The Spice Shop. Give them a try if you can't get it locally, or try another of our recommended spice suppliers.

Sprinkle a little over couscous, chick peas and rice dishes or rub a whole fillet of lamb tenderloin with 1 tablespoon of the mixture, brown it in oil and then grill it. I cannot tell you how gorgeous it smells!.


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