3 Recipes to Warm Up Your Palate, with Spicy Ras El Hanout

– by Jakob Anderson, Food Writer –

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Images associated with this article are for illustrative purposes only and do not represent the actual recipes

Translating to “head of the house,” this North African spice blend is seen in many Moroccan dishes. The exact recipe is up for hot debate. Families around North Africa all have their own custom blends, insisting theirs is the best. Most ras el hanout mixes contain ginger, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves. This being said, some blends contain up to 50 spices! You can find ras el hanout in all ethnic grocery stores but larger brands are starting to provide blends to supermarkets as well. It will come in a fine powder if pre-made, but traditionally it is comprised of whole spices, roots and dried leaves. Here are three great ways to introduce yourself to the Moroccan staple.

1. Ras El Hanout Meatballs with Orange and Honey Labneh

Spiced meatballs

Spiced meatballs

2 lb ground lamb or beef (I prefer lamb)

1 Tbsp ras el hanout

2 tsp grated ginger

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp pine nuts (optional)

1 cup labneh (or plain Greek yogurt)

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp honey

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp olive oil

Fresh herbs (mint, coriander and dill all are perfect)

Mix meat, pine nuts, ras el hanout, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Form into balls – whatever size you would like. Heat pan with oil on medium heat. Add meatballs to pan and cook through, browning all sides. Mix labneh, orange zest, honey and olive oil together. Serve meatballs with labneh mixture on the side or drizzled overtop, and top with herbs.

2. Chickpea Stew with Ras El Hanout

Chickpeas ready to be stewed

Chickpeas ready to be stewed

This is a fantastic weeknight recipe that can take under 30 minutes to prepare and cook!

2 cans chickpeas

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 onion, diced small

4 cloves garlic, chopped finely

4 dates, diced small

2 Tbsp ras el hanout

1 cup coconut milk or heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Sweat onions and garlic in pan with oil. Add ras el hanout, salt, pepper and dates. Add chickpeas, tomatoes and cream/coconut milk. Let come to boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Roast Chicken with Orange and Ras El Hanout

Spiced chicken

Spiced chicken

Another easy weeknight meal for your repertoire! Whole roasted chicken is often overlooked but it always seems to surprise me with how satisfying it is!

1 whole chicken

2 Tbsp ras el hanout

1 whole orange, halved

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix olive oil, ras el hanout, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub all over chicken (get intimate!). Roast chicken for approximately 20 minutes per pound, or until the deepest part of the inner thigh reaches 165 on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes (I know it smells good, but this step is important).