Recently I have been bringing some Moroccan influences and ingredients into the dishes I have been producing here in the Al-Gharb, at Casa Rosada. Saffron, cous cous, pomegranates, dried apricots, chermoula, preserved lemons and ras el hanout.
Literally "top of the shop", ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that can contain more than 30 ingredients.The spices I use are supplied by Algarvespice. Hartmut Meuschel and Ruth Bhuiyan have top quality spices and some that I have never even heard of. On a recent occasion buying spices from them at a local Autumn fair, I noticed their bagged up ras el hanout contained 26 ingredients!!!- I prefer to make my own blend. It is a streamlined version of the traditional mixture and includes most of the main spices.For the spice merchants in the Souks it is a point of honour to have the most sought after version of the blend. These spice merchants are reputed to have created custom blends of ras el hanout for prestigious clients,(Victoria whats your secret? ) including ingredients such as hashish and even Spanish fly. Our guests enjoy their dinners at Casa Rosada but I dont think we should be providing add-ons such as stimulants in the food!!!!-God help us we dont want a rude awakening of a night!!! Ras al hanout may sometimes contain floral scents such as lavender and rose buds. A first class ras el hanout, when found, is one of the finest examples of how well a diverse variety of spices can be combined to to create an ingredient that is greater than its individual components. Ras el hanout is curry-like with a spicy kick, a sometimes floral fragrance and subtle nuances within an overall robust flavour. It is extremely versatile, adding a golden colour and an enticing aroma to a variety of dishes. A teaspoon stirred into rice or cous cous while cooking will lift it to a higher level. It can be used as spice rub for lamb chops.
Here is my streamlined version:(11 components)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
And while on the Moroccan spice trail....
Coming up soon
Roast pork tenderloin with pears, dried apricots and ras el hanout
Mediterranean cous cous
Chermoula lamb leg steaks
Moroccan cooked tomato and green pepper chicken