Everything You Need To Know About: Ras-El-Hanout
What better way could there be to make a dish instantly more delicious than by adding your favourite spice?
Well, how about adding your favourite spice mix, for starters?
Spices are a little bit magic: using just a little on a familiar dish is enough to transform it. Have you ever tried putting cumin on baked beans? A little cinnamon on buttered toast? Cayenne pepper on pretty much anything?
They’re also cheap, they last for ages because they’re dried and (bet you didn’t know this) many of them also have antimicrobial properties. Some people think this is why warmer countries where infectious diseases are more prevalent use spices so much in their cuisine. We think it’s probably also to do with the fact that spices make things delicious.
So, having explored the possibilities of smoky paprika, lemony sumac and glamorous saffron, we went in search of new spice adventures. We found them in our number one spice blend: Ras-el-hanout from Morocco.
Ras-el-hanout (which literally means ‘best in the shop’) recipes vary from region to region. Our favourite (the one we put in our recipes) is made from a blend of cardamom, nutmeg, anise, cinnamon, ginger, hot peppers and turmeric but others might have flavours from cumin, rose and lavender. In the past, ras-el-hanout also sometimes included extracts of Spanish Fly, the notorious aphrodisiac!
Traditionally, ras-el-hanout is paired with meat dishes like lamb, which it matches beautifully because it is slightly sweet as well as fragrant. However, ras-el-hanout is so versatile that it really pays to get creative.
Try using ras-el-hanout to coat slices of halloumi cheese before frying, sprinkling a little onto hummus or adding it into bread dough or pastry.