I’ve been working on a few recipes, one being Chicken Shawarma, trying to find a version that can be made at home. without a spit or a rotisserie. So I’ve been eating a lot of Chicken Shawarma. Luckily, there’s a spice blend that can be mixed up that has most of the spices needed. Ras El Hanout. In my case, a Homemade Ras El Hanout. (And that Chicken Shawarma? My much-tested recipe has been perfected! Here’s my Homestyle Chicken Shawarma!)
Since I’m frugal, of course, I didn’t want to buy Ras El Hanout from a spice shop or on Amazon and I don’t know of any markets near me that carry it, which didn’t matter, anyway, because I didn’t want to blow a couple of hours driving to one. So after a little research, I came up with a blend of spices I’m happy with for my Homemade Ras El Hanout.
About Homemade Ras El Hanout:
Ras El Hanout is a spice blend from northern Africa and means “head of the shop” in the same way we say “top shelf” here in the states. It’s said to be the very best a spice seller has to offer & it is a very special blend of spices. An authentic one can be made up of 30 or more spices, many of them hard to get where I live or quite spendy. From my reading, I found out that many families make up their own homemade Ras El Hanout, and the secrets of those family blends are passed down the generations.
I practically scoured the internet looking at ingredients in Ras El Hanout spice blends, looking at the ones published in magazines like Bon Appetit and Saveur, or those published in newspapers like the New York Times. And I took a peek at any blogs I could find, too, that already had Homemade Ras El Hanout, paying special attention to any bloggers from Africa or the Middle East. Then I came up with a list of what I thought were the “essential” flavors for Ras El Hanout using what I was able to get easily or already kept in my spice cupboard.
I ended up with 13 spices, not including a little salt, which I realized too late isn’t generally in Ras El Hanout. I know that number will deter some of you guys right away. But some of you might want to mix some up and sprinkle it on your Chicken Shawarma and/or have it on hand for any of the dishes. below…
More Ways to Use this Spice Blend:
Since Ras el Hanout is commonly used in Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine to add depth and complexity to dishes, here are 12 more suggestions:
- Moroccan Tagine: A slow-cooked stew typically made with meat (chicken, lamb, or beef), vegetables, dried fruits, and Ras el Hanout.
- Couscous with Ras el Hanout: A traditional Moroccan dish of fluffy couscous steamed and flavored with the spice blend and various vegetables.
- Grilled Moroccan Chicken: Marinate chicken in a mixture of Ras el Hanout, olive oil, and lemon juice before grilling for a delicious and aromatic dish.
- Lamb Kebabs: Marinate chunks of lamb in Ras el Hanout and grill them on skewers for a flavorful and tender kebab.
- Spiced Roasted Vegetables: Toss a mix of seasonal vegetables with olive oil and Ras el Hanout before roasting for a delightful side dish.
- Ras el Hanout Hummus: Elevate your hummus by adding a sprinkle of Ras el Hanout for an exotic twist.
- Moroccan Lentil Soup: A hearty and warming soup made with lentils, tomatoes, and Ras el Hanout for a rich flavor.
- Ras el Hanout Rice Pilaf: Cook rice with the spice blend, onions, and raisins or other dried fruits for a fragrant and tasty pilaf.
- Moroccan Meatballs: Mix Ras el Hanout into the meatball mixture for a unique and aromatic twist on classic meatballs.
- Ras el Hanout Roasted Nuts: Toss mixed nuts with olive oil and Ras el Hanout before roasting them for a flavorful snack.
- Moroccan Chickpea Stew: Prepare a delicious vegetarian stew using chickpeas, tomatoes, and Ras el Hanout as the primary seasoning.
- Ras el Hanout-Crusted Fish: Coat fish fillets with a mixture of Ras el Hanout and breadcrumbs before baking or pan-frying for a delightful main course.
Remember that Ras el Hanout blends can vary slightly depending on the brand or recipe, so feel free to adjust the quantity to suit your taste preferences. Enjoy exploring the rich and aromatic flavors of Ras el Hanout in these diverse dishes!
Homemade Ras El Hanout
Making Ras El Hanout:
There really isn’t much to making Homemade Ras El Hanout. You’ll practically have to empty out your spice cupboard, though, and if you’re like me and keep the spices that aren’t used as much in their whole form, you’ll need to grind them. See below for more information on that.
I do have a method when I’m working with a lot of spices in any dish. I keep ones I haven’t measured yet to my left and after I’ve measured them out, move them to my right. That saves me from looking at a pile of spices and trying to determine if I’ve already added a particular one. Oh, the joys of getting old and not being able to rely as much on short-term memory! It’s good to have a method, though, because even if you’re not old like me, we all get distracted or pulled away during tasks.
If you’d like to see more of my Spice Blends, check out my post on Spice, Herb or Flavor Packet Substitutions.
Saving Money Homemade Ras El Hanout:
As you can see from the list in the recipe, many of the spices are ones that most people who cook and/or bake a lot have on hand. Many can be purchased in whole form or already ground.
There are times when you absolutely need the best quality ingredients in a mix, and there are times when savvy shopping can save you a bit of hard-earned cash. Making your own spice mixes is one of those times.
- Buy in Bulk: Purchase the dried herbs and spices in bulk or larger containers to save money. Often, larger quantities are more cost-effective than smaller amounts. This is especially true in items most used, and for standard “American” cooking, some of the most used items are paprika, onion, and garlic powder. These are building blocks for many spice blends as well as rubs for barbecue or grilling.
- Grow Your Own: Consider growing some of the herbs, like oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, mint, oregano, and basil, in your garden or in pots. This not only saves money but also provides you with fresh herbs whenever you need them and with the exception of basil, these all dry beautifully at the end of the season. If you plan right you may be able to bring herbs inside to overwinter. Generally, the cost of a plant is about the same amount as a small packet or bundle of herbs from the refrigerated section of the produce department.
- Buy Whole Spices: Seldom used spices (this works for chiles, too) can be bought in whole form if available. Most will keep for literally years in a glass jar, tightly lidded, in a cool, dark cupboard. Grind as needed and you’ll never have to toss old jars that have lost their oomph. If a spice will not break down to a powdery substance, shake it through a small strainer.
- Check in Different Areas: Check various areas of the store: You will almost always find dried spices and herbs in the baking aisle, but check any “ethnic” areas as well as the produce aisle. Many groceries sell dried spices and herbs in cellophane packets near the produce.
- Shop Around: Do check your big box stores for surprising deals. Also if you have access to any markets, especially Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latino markets, they may have stellar pricing and may have items not found in a regular chain grocery.
- Watch Sales: Spice sales do happen sporadically throughout the year, but generally, most producers offer specials, sales, coupons, and Catalinas in the Spring. Watch for them. A Catalina, if you are not familiar, is a piece of paper that is generated when an item is bought. That slip of paper will key you in on current or future sales (maybe unadvertised otherwise.)
- Be Wary: There’s a lot of advice online to buy spices in very small amounts from measure-your-own bulk jars. To buy all spices and herbs this way is generally insanely expensive. Consider this only if a one-off spice or herb is needed.
- Skip Expensive Brands: Don’t be swayed by fancy packaging or expensive brands. Check the ingredients and opt for the most affordable options available. Be wary of items sold in large bins for $1.00 for a small jar. They may or may not be cost-effective compared to buying in bulk, for instance.
- Know Your Spices & Herbs: While this covers buying spices and herbs, know how long they are good for and how to store them properly. Never toss spices or herbs after a year on the advice of a celebrity chef. I’ve written extensively on these subjects. Follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the pages to “You May Also Like.”
If you are a cook and/or baker and normally keep all or most of these spices on hand, it’s simple and inexpensive to make a Homemade Ras El Hanout. If you have to go to the store and buy a whole bunch of spices you might never use again, you’ll probably want to make the shortcut, below, or just buy a package of Ras El Hanout and be done with it. I honestly think once you have this spice in your cupboard, though, you will find ways to use it!
If you’d like to make a “shortcut” Ras el Hanout, check out my post for Homestyle Chicken Shawarma. If you’re not all about the real deal and elusive flavors in this recipe and more about getting a “good enough” and still delish version to get your dinner on the table, there’s no shame in that game!Print
Homemade Ras El Hanout Spice Blend
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 3 tablespoons 1x
- Category: Spice & Herb Blends
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix together. Store in a tightly covered jar in a cool, dark cupboard.
Keywords: Middle Eastern, Ras el Hanout, Spice & Herb Blends
I’ll be sharing my Homemade Ras El Hanout Spice Blend at Fiesta Friday #240. The co-hosts this week are Deb @ The Pantry Portfolio and Laurena @ Life Diet Health. Stop by and check out Fiesta Friday – it’s where so many great bloggers share their recipes weekly and you’re bound to find a lot of inspiration and something to cook! So funny, Deb’s latest post is for a Garlicky Hummus and Laurena’s for a Warming Spicy Lentil Dal. No, it’s not a conspiracy! We just all picked Middle Eastern Recipes this week! Perfect for fall days!