Prep 1 hr
Cook 0 mins
Here is yet another version of that mysterious spice blend with its origins in Morocco. This version is based on Paula Wolfert's, the authority on Moroccan cooking (outside of Morocco). Ras el hanout roughly translates to "head of the shop" and according to sources on the internet (and we all know that everything we read on the internet is true ;-)) the authentic versions can contain up to 100 ingredients, among them Spanish Fly and hashish. My version contains only ingredients that I am able to find at my nearby neighborhood ethnic markets; hence, no hashish or Spanish Fly. Since I have been unable to find certain types of peppers included in some recipes, I use dried chipotle peppers. No, it is not Morrocan; but it adds a hint of smokiness, on top of the smoked paprika, which I add later during the actual food prep. Although some versions of Ras include paprika, I feel that I have more control over the flavor if it is added later. Then I use Spanish smoked paprika (De la Vera).
- 4 whole nutmegs
- 10 rosebuds (dried)
- 12 cinnamon sticks (Ceylon)
- 12 pieces mace (blades)
- 1 teaspoon anise seed
- 2 dried chipotle peppers
- 1⁄2 teaspoon lavender (dried)
- 1 tablespoon white peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 2 pieces galangal
- 2 tablespoons whole gingerroot
- 8 pieces turmeric
- 6 cloves
- 24 allspice berries
- 20 green cardamom pods
- 4 black cardamom pods
- 2 teaspoons saffron threads
- Heat a small skillet over moderate heat. When hot, add white peppercorns, aniseed, cumin seed, coriander, cloves, and allspice berries. Stir constantly until fragrant and oils are released (only a few minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool in a separate bowl.
- Husk the cardamom pods, reserving the fragrant seeds. I love the flavor of cardamom, so I use more than what Paula Wolfert recommends above.
- Remove seeds and veins from dried chipotles and break apart.
- Break up nutmeg in a mortar and pestle.
- Once peppercorns, aniseed, cumin seed, coriander, cloves, and allspice berries have cooled, combine with remaining ingredients in a spice grinder and grind all together until fine. A coffee grinder works well, but then you will not want to grind coffee in it anymore. Even Alton Brown believes in having a separate grinder dedicated to the grinding of spices.
- Sift through a strainer to remove fibers from galangale, turmeric, ginger and any pieces that just do not grind.
- Store in a glass jar under regrigeration.
- A typical slather to make is to combine 1 Tbsp of this blend with 1 Tbsp of Spanish smoked paprika. Crush at least one large clove of garlic into a paste with Kosher salt. Combine with the paprika and Ras, then add olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Slather over chicken, lamb, or fish and roast until done.
Close your eyes and be transported to Northern Africa!