It isn't always easy to find premade versions of common African spice blends like Ras el Hanout at the local supermarket, but the truth is, if you have a well-stocked spice rack, you likely have almost all the components to make these mixtures on your own. With a spice grinder and the recipes below, you can easily bring the flavors of Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt and Tunisia into your kitchen.
Once made, these mixtures can be rubbed on meat or fish before cooking, added to soups and stews, sprinkled over roasted vegetables like potatoes, or used as a dip for bread or raw vegetables. You can even sprinkle them over popcorn or use them to coat nuts or chickpeas before toasting.
• Ras el Hanout: Popular in Moroccan cooking, this blend often features cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric, although every spice seller has his own custom recipe.
→ Recipe: Ras el Hanout at Epicurious
• Berbere: A key ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine that often includes ginger, garlic, fenugreek, chilies, black pepper, cloves, coriander and cardamom.
→ Recipe: Berbere at Epicurious
• Dukkah: An unusual Egyptian mixture that includes pounded nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, such as hazelnuts, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, mint, cumin and coriander.
→ Recipe: Dukkah
• Tunisian Baharat: While Middle Eastern baharat is a blend of several spices, the baharat eaten in North Africa is a simpler blend of cinnamon, dried rose petals and black pepper.
→ Recipe: Tunisian Baharat at CHOW
• Tsire: This West African mixture of ground peanuts and spices is commonly used on grilled meats.
→ Recipe: Tsire at The Chile Foundry
How do you like to use unusual spice blends in your cooking?
Related: Quick Vacation Tip: Pack Spice Blends
(Image: Faith Durand)