Ras el hanout is a traditional Moroccan spice mix. Loosely translated, it means ‘top of the shop’ and is meant to represent the very best the spice merchant has to offer. What makes this blend so special is the large number of ingredients, sometimes over 20, and the subtle manner in which the spices merge to form a balanced, full-bodied blend with no sharp edges. We’ve included a simplified version here that can be made from readily available ingredients.
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOKING TIME 45 minutes
- 4 chicken thighs, bone in
- 2 chicken breast fillets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 small carrots, sliced
- 12 small mushrooms, halved
- 1 cup (120 g) frozen peas
- salt, to taste
- about 1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock or water
- couscous, to serve
- Ras el hanout spice mix: 2 teaspoons mild paprika
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground cassia
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch of ground caraway seeds
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- pinch of ground cloves
Put the ras el hanout spice mix in a shallow dish, add the chicken pieces and roll so they are well coated with spice.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over high heat, add the chicken and turn until the pieces are sealed and browned all over. Add the onion, garlic and ¼ cup (60 ml) water and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Cover and cook for at least 15 minutes, resisting the urge to lift the lid as this will cause the temperature to drop, allowing the flavours in the steam to escape. By this time the chicken pieces will have released their juices.
Add the carrot and cook very slowly until tender. Stir in the mushrooms, peas, salt and enough stock or water to cover the chicken. Increase the heat until the liquid is heated through, then reduce it to very low again. Simmer gently until the mushrooms and peas are cooked. Serve over couscous.
Ras el hanout can be used to flavour most Moroccan dishes. To make a simple spiced couscous add ½ teaspoon of the spice blend to couscous or rice before cooking. For those who like a little more spice, make up some harissa paste and have this on the side.
Lots of flavour here but no chilli heat so go for a pinot gris or chardonnay. If you prefer a red, try a pinot noir or sangiovese.
Recipe from Just Add Spice by Lyndey Milan & Ian “Herbie” Hemphill
Lyndey Milan is an award-winning multi-media presenter, MC, speaker, food & wine teacher, consultant, debater, judge, Royal Agricultural Society councillor, regional Australian specialist and Creative Director of Flame Media, an international TV Production and distribution company & studio kitchen in Sydney. Lyndey is also an experienced international tour host, and will lead a tour to Morocco, together with By Prior Arrangement, in April 2020. For more information contact [email protected] or visit www.bypriorarrangement.com.
About the tour:
16-27 April 2020
This bespoke 12-day itinerary will see you travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way you will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, hike or ride a mule to a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You will discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in local eateries through to upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Your luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads.
Highlights of the tour include:
– personal hosting by Lyndey Milan
– must see destinations Rabat, Fes, Essaouira, Marrakech
– visit of an authentic Berber village in the Atlas Mountains
– a unique foodie tour of Marrakech souks and some cooking classes
– historical and cultural visits throughout with local licensed guides
– Majorelle Garden and the Yves Saint Laurent museum
– accommodation in traditional riads