Two spice blends are used regularly in Moroccan cooking, and I haven’t been able to find either one of them available in a store – so I made my own. Ras el Hanout is a dry spice mix that can include up to 30 different ingredients. [Update: A Ras el Hanout mixture IS available from the Savory Spice Shop! Should have checked there, but then I couldn’t have made the lovely spice diagram below :)]
Each recipe I’ve read is a little bit different – and the amounts are varied based on individual tastes. Here’s one I made that was a mixture of two different recipes.
The most interesting ingredient is “grains of paradise“. This ingredient actually wasn’t listed in the cookbook recipes, but it was mentioned that the mixture sometimes contains it. Although it’s a rare spice to find here in North America, I had purchased some of it recently at the Savory Spice Shop – it has a really nice peppery flavor. Here’s what it looks like, all blended together:
Harissa is a paste of spices and chiles that can be blended together and stored in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks. Some recipes called for straight dried chiles and others added a bit of roasted red bell pepper – so I made a combination of the two. Even with the sweet red pepper to tame it a bit, this sauce still has quite a kick! I used 1 Tbsp. of the mixture in my recently posted BBQ Chicken recipe. Here’s the recipe again:
Harissa (hot pepper sauce)*
8 dried red chiles (remove seeds)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
1/4 c. olive oil
Soak the dried red chiles in hot tap water for about an hour. Then drain and squeeze the extra water out of the peppers. [you may want to use gloves to handle the peppers, or at least remember not to rub your eyes afterwards!]
Grind the dried chiles in a mortar and pestle. Then blend together all ingredients into a paste in a food processor or mortar and pestle. You will use 1 Tbsp. of this in the marinade recipe, the rest will keep well in the refrigerator for use in other dishes.