Ras el Hanout, which is Arabic for “head of the shop,” is a spice mix often used as a rub for meats, especially lamb and goat in North Africa and the Middle East. Every spice shop, every restaurant, every home has its own recipe, and it can contain dozens of ingredients. This version contains all the usual suspects. Some recipes use saffron and rose petals, but I think they will just get lost, and saffron is the most expensive food in the world.
It is also used as an ingredient in sauces and marinades, and to flavor rice or cous cous. Some say it is an aphrodisiac. Let me know if it works for you.
As background for this recipe, please read my article on the Science of Rubs.
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom seeds
- 2 teaspoons ground cayenne or chipotle pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cubeb berries
- Mix and store in an airtight jar in a dark place. Before you use it, salt the meat, then put the spices in a small frying pan over a medium heat, no oil, and toast the mix for no longer than a minute. Turn off the heat the moment it becomes highly aromatic. This is called blooming the spices and helps pull the aromatic oils to the surface. Use it generously, but not thickly. It is great on grilled meat, but you can also use it on stew meat or braised meat if you brown it first.