Ras el Hanout

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Ras el Hanout

Postby Fred Sipe » Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:42 pm

I'm going to try my hand at some more Moroccan fare. I've just learned about Ras el Hanout.

For those of you who know this type of cooking, which of the 2 blends below would be your preference. Or do you have another recipe? Or am I being too anal about it?

Ras El Hanout 1
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric


Ras el Hanout 2
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
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Re: Ras el Hanout

Postby Christina Georgina » Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:46 pm

Every recipe you look at will be different so don't fret too much. For my taste I would use less allspice as I think it can overwhelm.
Although it might take some effort to find all the ingredients, I really love Mourad's recipe in New Moroccan. The difficult ones for me to find were grains of paradise and long peppers.
He uses these as well as coriander, cumin, dried orange peel, fennel seed, allspice, caraway, cinnamon stick, green cardamom, Telicherry peppercorn, black cardamom seed, mace, chile de arbol, cloves and star anise but NO tumeric. I believe I read it in this book that tumeric is used to increase the profit of commercial blends and the Moroccan home cook would not ordinarily use it in their k'meesa [stash of precious spice mix]
I really love this mix as well as the variations he walks you thru in this cookbook.

I keep this as well as some harissa and z'hug on hand all the time now [ the latter two in the freezer ] they come in handy in infinite ways.
Mamma Mia !
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Re: Ras el Hanout

Postby Frank Deis » Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:47 pm

I like the first one because of the Cardamom. And I agree with Christina about Mourad, it's a cookbook worth having.

I bought my Ras al Hanout online though. However you get it, it will have a sweet smell from the allspice and cinnamon. That is one of the intriguing things about Moroccan cooking specifically -- the mixture of sweet and savory. Chicken with dates and cinnamon. Mediaeval European cooking had a similar tendency to mix in almonds and sweet flavors and a few exotic spices with a savory dish.

My Ras al Hanout is from Zamouri Spices and it's available via Amazon.com. The label says:

Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, Fennel, Anise Seed, Cardamom, Galangal, Star Anise, Cayenne Pepper, Garlic, Nigella, Paprika, Rosebuds, Salt, Ajwan Seeds, Lavendar Blossoms, Mace, and other spices.
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Re: Ras el Hanout

Postby Christina Georgina » Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:51 pm

Frank, I bought the Zamouri mix as well but was very disappointed to see that the first ingredient listed is tumeric. I still use it but go to the Mourad stash when I make something in his book
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Re: Ras el Hanout

Postby Frank Deis » Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:33 pm

Christina, I hear you. I don't think the turmeric hurts but it's a filler, that's for sure.

My theory is that if something is TOO much trouble I just won't bother, won't go there. I seem to be able to talk myself into working for several days to make something by Thomas Keller. But 90% of the time (not 100%) the payoff from a Keller recipe is totally worth it. The percentage is much lower with Mourad. I spent a lot of time whittling the stems on my red Swiss Chard to a specific shape and width and decided that time was totally wasted, Mourad gives "busy work" sometimes. His standards are very high and the results sometimes don't measure up.

But it's a favorite cookbook because the pictures are wonderful, the stories make me dream and the recipes are all fun to read.

When we ate there (at Aziza in SF) I ordered the lamb shank -- I wish I could buy thick meaty lamb shanks like they served at Aziza. But judging from the flavor I would say very much of the flavor was from the meat and the way it was cooked, and going to great lengths to find the right kind of prune to use in the marinade might be time wasted.

SO for me the choice might possibly be cooking Moroccan with store-bought Ras el Hanout, or not cooking Moroccan at all. I would much rather cook Moroccan with my sightly inferior ingredients than turn my back on the cuisine…
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Re: Ras el Hanout

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:12 pm

The first one is a lot more interesting than the second one.

A friend once explained that ras el-hanout basically means "a little bit of everything in the shop" so it's hard to go wrong, really. A lot depends on what you're going to make with it.
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