Pantry essentials :: Ras el Hanout

Trust me when I say that this Middle Eastern spice mix is going to change your meals.

I picked up a small tub earlier this year and liberally seasoned a free range chicken before cooking it on the BBQ {see recipe here} and the results were nothing short of spectacular. Since then I’ve used it on racks of ribs and pork bellies, and every single time I’ve been asked what that amazing flavour is. The beauty of it is that if, like me, you already have lots of spices in the cupboard you can probably make your own, which is what I’ve done ever since that first small jar ran out.

Like with anything you make yourself there’s the bonus of adapting it to your own specific tastes, so treat the ingredients below as a guide, and feel free to play with the whole range of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spices. Some versions call for roasting and grinding of spices, but let’s be realistic, most of have neither the time nor the inclination, which is why I use ground spices only.

When it comes to quantities it depends on how much you want to end up with, and approximately a teaspoon of each spice is probably enough to start with, and the only one I would suggest adding more of {maybe a tablespoon} is the smoked paprika. I’d also recommend you reduce the amounts of cinnamon and allspice, and of course leave out the cayenne pepper completely if you prefer.

what you need

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

what to do

  • Use ras el hanout to season meats and vegetables. It is best suited to chicken and pork, and root vegetables like potatoes. Drizzle everything well with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then rub the ras el hanout all over.

    Pork rib racks seasoned with ras el hanout, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

  • To enhance the flavour place lemon halves alongside the meats and vegetables while they’re cooking, the combination of lemons and ras el hanout cooking smells amazing.

    Chicken and vegetables, with lemon halves alongside. Ready for the oven or BBQ.

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