Moroccan Spice Blend (Ras el Hanout)
There must be as many recipes for ras el hanout as there are spice vendors in Morocco. The name itself, which translates as "top (or head) of the shop," refers to the best combination of spices the seller can provide. Si Brahim, our spice vendor in Azemmour, incorporates thirty-four spices, dried roots, so-called aphrodisiacs, and other mysterious and unusual items.
1 tsp allspice berries or 1-1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 whole nutmeg or 2 tsp ground nutmeg
20 threads spanish saffron
2 tsp black peppercorns or 1-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp blade mace or ground mace
1 three-inch cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom seeds or 1-1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 two-inch pieced dried ginger or 2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp salt
1 two-inch piece dried turmeric or 1 tsp ground
1. If using whole spices, put all the ingredients in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and toast, stirring constantly, until the mixture emits a pleasant aroma, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and let cool. (This first step is not necessary if using commercially ground spices.)
3. Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, reduce the ingredients to a fine powder.
4. Sift to remove fibrous elements. Place in a tightly sealed container and store in a cool, dark place, or in the freezer.
Note: Blade mace, also called mace blades, is the lacy, scarlet aril covering the nutmeg. It turns light brown as it dries. It is better known in its powdered form as ground mace
*Recipe taken from Cooking at the Kasbah : Recipes from My Moroccan Kitchen by Kitty Morse