A slew of North African spices combine to make a fragrant, exotic mixture. Whether used as a grill rub, when pan-frying fish or as the foundation for tagine, diverse, distinctive ras el hanout is worth the investment and effort to make.
Note: Though this heady Moroccan spice blend can be purchased at ethnic markets and online at Amazon.com, there's something particularly rewarding about making it from scratch.
About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole cubeb pepper (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
- 8 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried anise seeds
- 1 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon, sweet paprika, divided use
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground mace
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon dried rosebud petals
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender
Add cinnamon, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cubeb, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, allspice berries, cloves, and anise seed to a dry skillet set to medium-low heat. Lightly toast until fragrant and a shade darker, shaking so spices don’t burn (about two minutes). Cool slightly and remove cardamom seeds from pods by tapping with something heavy, such as a pestle. Discard pods.
Add remaining ras el hanout spices and toasted spices to a small coffee grinder used only for grinding spices. Pulse the grinder to get things started, and let it run until the mixture is ground into a fine powder. Store in an airtight jar in a dark, cool place until ready to use.