‘Sheila, where do you buy that Razzle whatever it is that you were on about in the paper???????’
I’ve had variations of this question quite a lot recently as my new cookbook ‘Enjoy!’ has a number of recipes using ‘Ras El Hanout’ and one of the most appealing recipes ‘Jambalaya Chicken’ has been used in a number of publications and websites. One of my selling points has always been that all of the ingredients I use can be bought in the supermarket however not all supermarkets stock ‘Ras El Hanout’ hence this blog post. If you come across a blend of spices called ‘Moroccan Spices’ that will be the same thing.
‘Ras El Hanout’ means head of the shop and its contents vary from spice shop to spice shop in North Africa. It will contain numerous spices and I like to think of it as a warming spice blend rather than a ‘hot’ spice blend if you know what I mean. It leans towards sweetness with the inclusion of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
If you can’t find it in your local supermarket I suggest you ask them to stock it. Failing that most specialist food shops will have it and in my town – Ballincollig they have it in the Quay Co-op. I’ve also bought it in the English Market and in a spice shop on North Main Street recommended to me by Elke O’Mahony. Elke had me on her radio programme ‘The Food Hour’ recently for a lovely chat and she has reviewed Enjoy! on her website Bia Sasta.
Back to ‘Ras El Hanout’ – in the period of time that it took for Enjoy! to be published two variations of Ras El Hanout that I used to use have gone off the market. There are two remaining that I am aware of, one in Tesco by ‘Santa Maria’ (I’ve bought it but haven’t tried it yet)
and another alternative called ‘Roasted Moroccan Spices’ is available at Marks & Spencers. If you know of others available in your supermarket (dry blends – not pastes) I’d love you to leave a comment and let me know.
The third packet in the photograph at the top was the one I bought at Khan’s spice shop on North Main Street, Cork.
If all else fails you can whip up a batch yourself. I did this today and am extremely satisfied with my end result however without the aid of a spice grinder it was most definitely a labour of love.
I had most of the spices that I chose to include in my ‘Ras El Hanout’ spice blend at home already but one thing I did seek out was dried rose petals in the English Market. Whether key to the flavour or not, their colour and texture make them a must include for me.
Pictured above are the 10 spices that this ‘head of the shop’ chooses to include at chez Gimme the Recipe. They are : (L to R Top Row) Cumin Seed, Coriander Seed, Paprika (Middle Row), Turmeric, Black Peppercorns, Cinnamon, (Bottom Row) finally Cardamom Pods, Ground Nutmeg, Dried Rose Petals & Cloves.
First Job is to release the cardamom seeds from the pods, as below : firstly place the cardamom pods in a mortar (bowl) and bash with the pestle, secondly release the seeds from the opened pods with your fingers and discard the husks leaving the seeds behind:
Next step is to combine the whole spices in a dry frying pan for a quick toasting – cumin seed, coriander seed, black peppercorns, cloves and cardamom seeds.
Just a couple of minutes over a high heat will do it, toast them lightly and inhale the magnificent aroma
Next up is the fun bit, grinding the toasted spices. I used a regular pepper grinder and between myself and my husband it took us twenty minutes! (Adding a spice grinder to my Wish-List pronto!).
20 minutes later : voila!
Next up I ground the dried rose petals – just a little to break them up a bit to disperse better:
All that’s left to do is to combine the spices:
Finally the Ras El Hanout can be stored in a sealed jar for up to 6 months.
Ras el Hanout by Gimme the Recipe
You will need:
2 tbsp cumin seed
2 tbsp coriander seed
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp black peppercorn
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
seeds from 8-10 cardamom pods
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp dried rose petals
Method: (as per photos above)
Toast (dry-fry) the cumin seed, coriander seed, black peppercorn, cardamom seeds & cloves
Grind the toasted spices
Lightly grind the rose petals
Combine the toasted spices with the rose petals and all other remaining spices
Store in an airtight jar
‘Til next time, Sheila