Ras El Hanout Spice: its History and Story
Ras el Hanout is a diverse and aromatic blend rich in finest spices and commonly used in Moroccan cuisine. The Arabic meaning of its name is “top of the shop”. It is combined from 27 or more ingredients which are brought from different countries. Even though it’s mostly used in Moroccan cuisine, its origin is not Moroccan; it is an old blend created thanks to many historical events. The geographical location of Morocco along with the colonists, exposed the community to different cultures and, more importantly, brought plenty of spices and ingredients into its cuisine.
So, how did Moroccan achieve this unique blend? Actually, this might be referred to a very old story. Once, there was an unjust and merciless Sultan who used to order unbearable tasks and cruelly punish his slaves if they couldn’t respond to his demands quickly and carry them out perfectly. One day, he asked one of his slaves to bring him some spices to flavor his daily Couscous dish. The poor slave got delayed because he was forced to carry out a task intended for the chef’s wife. He hurried to the spice trader and reached him gasping and saying that he needs a little bit of every type; he was desperate and had no time to check them all. When he went back to the Sultan’s cook to give him the spices, they both were surprised to see a blend of all myriad ingredients the trader chose. They both knew that the Sultan wants to have his couscous exactly on time and he would not forgive them for such a delay. So, the cook had to use that blend and serve the dish to the Sultan with horror. The dish had an aromatic smell and a delicious taste and the Sultan proclaimed that it was the finest dish he has ever had. Fortunately, the trader chose the most special spices and pinched the top off the head of each of his tidy spices’ pyramids which made the blend unique!
This blend might include more than 60 spices which means that there is no specific or final recipe for it. However, there are common ingredients used to make it such as Cardamom pods, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger and Turmeric.
At Spice Masters we chose these ingredients and many others to developed the blend over time so that we could use it as both a BBQ rub and to cook tasty dishes.