Ingredient Spotlight: Ras el Hanout

If you like to cook Moroccan food, then one thing you need to have in your spice rack is Ras el Hanout.

Ras el Hanout is a spice blend common in North African cooking, and features especially heavily in Moroccan cuisine. The name in Arabic means "head of the shop," and literally refers to the best spices the store has to offer. Each shop has their own unique secret blend, but a typical Ras el Hanout contains a mixture of cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, mace, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric. Some other shops may add more exotic ingredients such as ash berries, chufa, Grains of Paradise, orris root, Monk's pepper, cubebs, or dried rosebud.

The spice is used in marinades, as a rub, as a seasoning in many dishes, and as a condiment. Moroccans believe it has aphrodisiac properties.

Ras el Hanout can be found in upscale grocers such as Whole Foods, Middle Eastern markets, and online at Amazon.com.

(Image: Amazon)

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