Ras el Hanout (رأس الحانوت, “head of the shop” as in top shelf, best spices in the shop) is a Maghrebi spice mix. It’s used in many savory dishes, sometimes rubbed on meat or fish, or stirred into couscous or rice. The mix is generally associated with Morocco, although neighboring countries use it as well. There’s no definitive composition of spices that makes up Ras el Hanout. Each shop, company, or family may have their own special blend. The mix usually consists of over a dozen spices, in different proportions, although some purists insist that it must contain exactly 12 items. Commonly used ingredients include cumin, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, dry turmeric, and fenugreek. Some spices may be particular to the region, such as ash berries, chufa, grains of paradise, orris root, monk’s pepper, cubebs, dried rosebud, fennel seed, aniseed, galangal, or long pepper. Ingredients may be toasted before being ground or pounded in a mortar and mixed together. Some preparations include salt or sugar, but that is generally not the accepted practice. Garlic, saffron, nuts or dry herbs are generally not included, as they’re added to dishes separately, but some commercial preparations, particularly outside the Maghreb, may contain them. In the past, Ras el Hanout sometimes included cantharides for its aphrodisiac properties, but the sale of cantharides was banned in Morocco in the 1990s.
Makes 4 generous servings
* 1 tbsp. Ras el Hanout Spice Mix
* 2 tsp. harissa paste
* 2 tbs. tomato paste
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 2 tbsp. honey
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 1 cup vegetable broth or water
* 1 cup cherry tomatoes,halved
* 2 cups of cubed butternut squash
* 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
* 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
* 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and cubed
* 1 can of cooked chickpeas
* salt to taste
* a handful of mixed chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves for garnish
* Balkan style yogurt for serving
1. Place a heavy bottomed pot in medium high heat. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until lightly browned.
2. Add Ras el Hanout and sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato paste and harissa then sauté for a couple of minutes, do not burn.
3. Add vegetables and chickpeas then pour water or vegetable broth. Season with salt to taste then add honey. Cover and cook until vegetables are nicely done and tender, about 30 minutes.
4. Serve with couscous topped with mixed chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves and a dollop of Balkan style yogurt on the side.
Look Mum, No Hands (or, how I learnt to roast a chicken)
Just back from tour and CRAVING vegetables, despite the fact that we ate pretty well and had some pretty rad cook-offs in our two tour apartments (one of which was haunted by a ghost…but that’s another story). So here’s my simple (i.e. can’t really be fucked cooking but am hungry for good food) recipe for Roast Chicken and Spiced Cauliflower.
I had a mate tell me the other day he didn’t know how to roast a chicken. I laughed in his face. Seriously, there is nothing easier.
- 1 x 1.3kg free-range organic chicken (size 13)
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2-3 tbsp ras el hanout spice mix (or mix together your faves)
- 1 medium orange
- Salt and Pepper
Take the chicken out of the fridge and sit at room temperature, 40 minutes before you plan to start cooking.
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees.
Wash the chicken (inside and out) and pat dry. If there are any giblets or bits inside the chicken, give them to your dog or set them aside to make stock (an excellent way to rid yourself of your roast chicken carcass).
Rub the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper, slice the orange in two and stuff it inside the chicken. Close the skin over the opening and hold closed by placing a toothpick through the skin, or tying the legs together with some kitchen string.
Rub the outside of the chicken with the butter, then rub in the spice mix and sprinkle some salt and pepper over.
Place the chicken in a roasting pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes at the high heat (to crisp the skin). Turn the oven down to around 180 degrees and roast for a further 45 or so minutes, basting every 20 minutes with the juices from the pan. When you’re basting (brushing the juices on or pouring them over with a spoon), check the skin isn’t getting two brown. If it is, cover it loosely with foil.
When the chicken is cooked (test it by piercing the chicken between the drumstick and the body – the thickest part – if the juices run clear, you’re home, if they run pink, it needs more time). Place the chicken on a wooden board, cover with foil and a teatowel and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving, to allow the juices to distribute themselves through the meat.
Yay! You just roasted a chicken.
Spiced Cauliflower Salad
I kind of made this up as I went along and forgot to write anything down. I’m sure it will work though as it’s pretty straightforward….
- 1 large head of cauliflower, leaves removed and cut into small florets
- 2 tbsp ras el hanout
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of one lemon
- ½ cup currants or ruby-red sultanas
- Juice of one orange
- 2 tbsp Ximénezsherry
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 4 tbsp sesame seeds
- Large handful parsley, finely chopped
- 100g feta, crumbled
Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, and cut out the stem. Then use your hands to break the clumps into smaller florets (I find this much easier than cutting them up).
Pour over the spices, olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Mix together and place in a shallow baking dish. Cook at 180 degrees for around 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked.
Meanwhile, mix the currants/sultanas with the juice and sherry. Allow to soak for 20 minutes then drain.
Toast the pine nuts and sesame seeds in a non-stick frying pan, over a medium heat, until lightly browned.
Mix the roasted cauliflower, currants/sultanas, feta, parsley, pine nuts & sesame seeds together in a large bowl. Serve!