Ras el hanout is a North African spice mix often used in savoury dishes. It can be used as a rub on meats or fish, or added to rice or couscous to make it just a little bit more interesting.
I discovered this mix of spices when I started making Morrocan-style chicken with couscous. At the time, I popped down to the local fruit shop that stocks a range of quality spices. Luckily ras el hanout was amongst the packets hanging on the hooks, although it did go under the name ‘Moroccan spice mix’, with ras el hanout written in a very small font underneath. I was happy to go along with a generic name as long as it gave me what I needed. And it did!
To my delight, the local supermarket also stocked a version of ras el hanout. However, the excitement didn’t last long. The supermarket variety was a whole other matter. The packet had sparkly bits in it. It didn’t look quite right. The ingredients list provided the answer: salt, sugar, natural flavour, and rice flour. Ingredients, I believe, shouldn’t be included. I left the supermarket empty handed. But not defeated.
A bit of research gave me what I needed. There was no definitive answer about what goes into ras el hanout, so I combined a couple of options and came up with my version, which is closely aligned to everything I read. I hope this is useful to all those who don’t want unnecessary additions to spice mixes or for those who just can’t find Moroccan spice mix when they need it. Enjoy!
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2½ tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon cardamon seeds (removed from pods)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Place whole spices in a dry frying pan and toast for a couple of minutes to enhance the flavours. Be careful not to burn them. They should turn one shade darker.
- Tip whole spices into a spice grinder, or mortar and pestle, add the ground spices, and crush to a fine powder.
- Store in a sealed jar.