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« Label Conscious by Ed McGaugh | Main | Miam Le Forum Appetissant by Farid Zadi »

August 10, 2005

Algerian Spice Blends by Farid Zadi

Spices(Photo courtesy of Adam Balic, prepared for mrouzia)

The spices are: Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, star anise, tumeric, ginger, allspice, green cardamon, black cardamon, wild fennel, long pepper, rose buds, cloves, grains of paradise, black pepper, chiles, coriander and cumin.

This recipe represents the characteristics of ras el hanout (also transliterated as ras el haout) that I look for. There is a range of flavors: sweet, hot, bitter, pungent, earthy and floral. The proportions of each spice can vary, but my personal preference would be add just a touch of cinnamon.

My favorite spices are cumin, turmeric and saffron.  I add them to a range of dishes, but use them in different proportions depending on the dish so I  store them separately.  I rarely make ras el hanout because I prefer to have separate blends that have clearer flavor profiles such as "sweet spices" or "earthy spices" and I rarely add chili powder to spice blends.

Four  Spice Blend l Quatres Epices this is a blend that I always keep on hand.

4 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1/2 tablespoon fennel
1/2 tablespoon turmeric

Four Spice Blend ll

1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried galangal powder
two pinches of nutmeg
2 dried rose petals

Five Spice Blend I usually makes this as needed, usually for Wahrani style bouillabaisse or paella. I add the saffron separately.

1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon caraway
1 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne

Ras el Hanout

cinnamon
nutmeg
mace
star anise
turmeric
ginger
allspice
green cardamon
fennel
rose buds
cloves
grains of paradise
black pepper
white pepper
coriander
cumin
galangal
orissroot
lavender
allspice berries
coriander

I did not take notes of the quantities the last time I prepared this. It's really important to follow your nose when blending spices, especially with ras el hanout which I consider a perfume for dishes.

My own way with using spices is to layer them. For instance when preparing one version of chicken with olives, I rub turmeric and saffron into the chicken before browning. Then I add my four spice l blend a few minutes into simmering, a little more in the middle of cooking and about ten minutes before the dish is done. If I'm making lamb with apricots and almonds I'll add four spice ll blend at the beginning of cooking, a little cumin in the middle and finish with a pinch or two of ras el hanout at the end. Another example of layering spices is for a Kefta marqa (tagine or stew), I season the minced meat with one set of spices and the sauce with another. For instance I might mix cumin and finely minced fennel fronds into the meat, then add turmeric, saffron and fresh coriander to the sauce.  In this way flavor components blend but do not get muddled. For slow cooked marqas I recommend a touch of vinegar or lemon juice about 5-10 minutes before the dish is finished cooking to brighten up the flavors. I consider this to be an Arab cooking truc (I could be wrong).

Ras_el_hanout(photo courtesy of Paula Wolfert)

Alspice, ash berries, belladonna leaves, black cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cantharides, cardamom pods, wild cardamom pods, cayenne, cassia cinnamon, ceylon cinnamon, cloves, coriander seed, cubebe pepper, earth almonds, galingale, ginger, gouza el asnab, grains of paradise, long pepper, lavender, mace, monk's pepper, nutmeg, orrisroot and turmeric.

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please tell me where i can buy these spices already put together?

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