Homemade Ras el Hanout

[Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

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.

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Homemade Ras el Hanout

About This Recipe

Yield:makes 1/2 cup
Active time:5 minutes
Total time:5 minutes
Special equipment:Coffee grinder for spice-use only, pestle

Ingredients

  • 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

Procedures

  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

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