Ras el Hanout


Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend found throughout North Africa, Tunisia, and Algeria as well. Its name translates to “head of the shop”. Ras el hanout is packed with anti-inflammatory agents, like ginger, turmeric and black peppercorn and delivers additional warmth with paprika, cinnamon and cayenne. Spice shops and families have their own versions of this ubiquitous blend, some with highly guarded secret recipes using anywhere from 10-40 different ingredients. I always recommend making your own spice blends from both whole and ground spices. They will be fresher and more pungent than a store bought blend, which might also be hard to find consistently. In your own blends, you can omit salt and control the ratios of spices to your particular taste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, simply use all ground spices to make this blend. Or you could attend a Spice of Life class where you learn all about spices and can make a freshly ground blend to take home.

Makes: 9 tablespoons or ~½ cup or fills 1 average spice jar

What you need:

  • 1 cinnamon stick (1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns (1 ½ - 2 teaspoons ground black pepper)

  • 2 teaspoons allspice berries (1 ½ - 2 teaspoons ground allspice)

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds (1 ½ - 2 teaspoons ground coriander)

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (1 ½ - 2 teaspoons ground cumin)

  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves (1- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves)

  • 4 teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne

  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg


What you do:

  1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the cinnamon stick and toast for 30 seconds. Add the peppercorns and allspice berries and toast an additional 45 seconds. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and whole cloves. Toast just until fragrant, about 15-30 seconds. Transfer spices to a plate or sheet of parchment paper to cool.

  2. When cooled, grind whole spices in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle until fine.

  3. Transfer to a bowl and add smoked paprika, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. Store in a glass spice jar and use within 6 months for best results.