Spice support: ras el hanout

Over the centuries, signature spice blends have been developed in regions the world over. Most of these blends started with combining herbs and spices that grew in the local area, but after the development of the spice trade routes, people began incorporating flavors from farther away into the blends. One blend that has garnered a following far outside of its original area is ras el hanout, which hails from North Africa.

ras el hanout

According to the Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs, Ras means king, and the name of the spice blend is often translated as “head of the shop.” As with many blends, there is no single recipe that is definitive, with everyone adding or subtracting items to suit their personal preferences, with spice vendors closely guarding their particular combination. Typical components of ras el hanout include coriander, green cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin, anise, and fennel seeds. Rose petals or lavender blossoms are also frequently included. 

The spice blend is used to season dishes ranging from couscous and rice to tagines, soups and stews. You can use it as a dry rub on meats as well. You can make your own ras el hanout, which is traditionally sold as a blend of whole spices that are ground just prior to use. The EYB Library contains several recipes for making your own blend, including the Moroccan spice blend (Ras-el-hanout) from Epicurious pictured above. And of course, the Library contains hundreds of recipes that use ras el hanout, like these Member favorites: 

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