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Ras el hanout

Ras el hanout (Arabic: راس الحانوت) is a popular blend of herbs and spices that is used across North Africa. The name means "head of the shop" Arabic, and refers to a mixture of the best spices a seller has to offer.

There is no definitive set combination of spices that makes up Ras el hanout. Each shop, company, person would have their own secret combination containing over a dozen spices. Typically they would include cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers (also known as paprika), coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric.

Some recipes include over one hundred ingredients, some quite unusual, such as ash berries, chufa, Grains of Paradise, orris root, Monk's pepper, cubebs, dried rosebud, Usually all ingredients are toasted and then ground up together. Individual recipes are often improvised.

Ras el hanout is used in almost every kind of food, Sometimes rubbed on meats, and stirred into rice. It is often believed to be an aphrodisiac.


  • The Gourmet Cookbook, by Ruth Reichl (Ed.), Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-37408-6
  • The Oxford Companion to Food, by Alan Davidson, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211579-0

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