Ras el hanout
Why spend money on a spice blend when you can just make it yourself at a fraction of the cost? You'll never buy blends again - especially the ones that are a challenge to find in the first place.
When I first read about ras el hanout, I had no idea what it was. It started appearing in recipes and conversation, so I turned to Google to learn more. Soon enough, I discovered ras el hanout as a Moroccan sweet, spicy, and savory spice blend. It had me intrigued, and soon I realized how challenging it was to find in my local grocer. Shortly thereafter, I was back on the computer searching for a recipe.
My search showed an endless list of variations. I chose one at random, and ever since I've been concocting my own personal blend. It's now just how I like it, and I use it in many savory dishes with fish, chicken, bean, lentils, grains, and far too many vegetables to count.
Happily, ras el hanout sits, displayed on my spice rack with a permanent presence.
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container out of sunlight in a cool, dark place.
If you like this spice blend, you'll love baharat as well. It's a widely used Middle Eastern spice blend, similar to ras el hanout. Get it here.
Dukkah, an Egyptian nut & spice blend, is the perfect topping for salads or grilled fish. I use it weekly to jazz up a simple salad. My current favorite is tossing grilled asparagus spears with fava beans, fresh mint, a generous pinch of dukkah, and olive oil. Serve over rice topped with yogurt, and you have yourself a satisfying pilaf.
But don't take my word for it, taste for yourself:
dukkah, the recipe
Makes 1 cup
¼ cup coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
½ cup toasted hazelnuts
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint leaves
2 teaspoon sea salt
Place a skillet over medium-high heat and toast the coriander, cumin, peppercorns, caraway, and fennel until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Put spices into a spice grinder or mortar and grind/crush to a powder. Add the sesame seeds, hazelnuts, mint, and sea salt.
Check out other unique spice blends like baharat or ras el hanout. You won't regret making them, I promise.
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