Ras el hanout
Thought to have originated in the Maghrebi villages of North Africa and used widely in Moroccan cuisine, ras el hanout is a complex blend that can contain as few as 10 and as many as 100 spices. Literally meaning 'top of the shop', each blend contains the best spices a merchant has to offer. This may include mace, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, dried rosebuds or saffron. Some traditional recipes even contain unusual ingredients such as Spanish fly and hashish. Because there are large amounts of different spices, it is easier and more economical to purchase ras el hanout prepared. It is commonly used to season mutton or lamb but can also be combined with other meat, game, poultry, rice and couscous.
Ras el hanout
- 1 kg minced lamb
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 onion, coarsely grated
- 1 tbsp ras el hanout
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped (loosely packed)
- 1 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped (loosely packed)
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 egg
- 35 gm dried breadcrumbs (½ cup)
- 2 tbsp currants
- 50 gm pine nuts, toasted
- 60 ml olive oil (¼ cup)
- To serve: coriander, mint and flat leaf parsley leaves
- 250 ml natural yoghurt (1 cup)
- 1 tsp tahini
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1Combine minced lamb, garlic, onion, ras el hanout, herbs, chilli, egg, breadcrumbs, currants and pine nuts in a large bowl, season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and using hands, mix until well combined. Using wet hands, roll mixture into 3cm balls and refrigerate until required. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, add meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, over medium-high heat, for 8 minutes or until cooked through and evenly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
- 2For garlic yoghurt sauce, combine ingredients and stir until smooth, then add enough water to reach a pouring consistency. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- 3Combine herbs and serve with meatballs and yoghurt sauce passed separately.