Many Moroccan recipes call for Ras el Hanout, which means "head or top of the shop." Ras el Hanout is a spice mixture and is made of the best combination of spices a shopkeeper can provide. Some versions contain as many as 30 or more spices. Since spices are an integral part of Moroccan cooking, they are sold in many of the shops or souks as they are called in Morocco. If you can’t find ready made Ras el Hanout, the following is an easy but very good version; it contains only 10 quite common spices, which may already be sitting on your cupboard shelves. The homemade Ras el Hanout will keep in an airtight container for months and can be used in many Moroccan dishes such as tagines, salads, and couscous.
Whole spices keep their flavor much better than those that are already ground, so it’s a good idea to purchase them whole for use in this recipe. The spices can be ground in a mortar and pestle, but it is a lot more work and takes more time than using a spice grinder. If possible, purchase an inexpensive coffee grinder to use only for spices; it will save a lot of time and make dozens of recipes easier.
Quick and Easy Ras el Hanout
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 whole nutmeg
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons blade mace, or ground mace
1 3" cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
20 threads Spanish saffron
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Put the allspice, nutmeg, peppercorns, mace (if using blade mace), the cinnamon stick, and cardamom seeds in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and toast, stirring constantly, until the mixture emits a pleasant aroma, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind the spices to a fine powder.
- Add the saffron threads and grind.
- Stir in the ginger, salt, and turmeric (and mace if using ground mace) and grind in with the other spices.
- After grinding, remove any fibrous pieces.
- Transfer the mixture to an airtight container.
- Store in a cool dark place, or in the freezer.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 8 Calories from Fat 2
Percent Total Calories From:
Fat 20% Protein 11% Carb. 69%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 234 mg
Total Carbohydrate 1 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 0 g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0% Calcium 0% Iron 2%