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.
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 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 Tagines, Pumpkin or Peanut Soups, and side dishes like couscous or rice. So many of those recipes are perfect in the fall, so this might be just the time for 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.
I like to purchase spices that I don’t use very often in the whole form and then use my coffee grinder (generally cheaper than a spice grinder) to pulverize them. I’ve also used a blender for years to break down whole spices and a mortar and pestle and a lot of muscle will work, too, and so will two pans. Put the spices in one pan and grind them down with a smaller one. I have a photo at the bottom of the page of ground black pepper made using four different methods and as you can see, the final product doesn’t differ all that much from method to method.
Whole spices can keep literally for years in a dark cupboard. I have whole Allspice for my Jamaican Jerk Chicken and several desserts. I have cumin in both the seed form and powdered for my favorite Mexican dishes. Cardamom I do have, although I don’t remember why; I had it in its whole form because it falls into that seldom-used category. Nutmeg, Cloves, and Coriander I actually had in both powder or whole. I use coriander in Mexican or Indian dishes and when I make some of my homemade pickles. Nutmeg and Cloves I use for both savory dishes and in baking.
If you are 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 just buy a package of Ras El Hanout and be done with it.
Homemade Ras El Hanout Spice Blend
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 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.
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!