22 February 2021

Why ras-al-hanout is top of the shop

Discover the history behind the Middle Eastern spice blend with over 20 key ingredients

Why ras-al-hanout is top of the shop

Ras-al-hanut (ras-al-hanout) is a complex spice blend often used in Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine. Literally meaning ‘top of the shop’ it signifies the very best blend that a spice merchant would have to offer, and with an impressive 20+ ingredients one can see why.

With a combination of spices such as paprika, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, saffron and rose, it is spicy yet floral, robust yet subtle and is used to flavour everything from tagines and stews to being added as a flavouring for dips, as a marinade for meat or added to couscous or eggs for extra flavour. 

One of our previous Spice Taster Panels gave a few more helpful hints and you can read more about that here. Tasters found it ‘perky, interesting but not too hot’ with a ‘wonderful smell’.

Axel Steenberg, who created the unique spice seasoning for Steenbergs, used authentic ingredients that are true to the blend’s historic past: “A good Ras Al Hanut Spice Mix is arguably the finest example of how blending a diverse collection of spices can come together to form a complete ingredient that is immeasurably greater than the sum of the parts taken individually. Every spice merchant has his/her own recipe but typically it is a complex mix of spices that embody the spice trade - there's Malabar's cardamom, Sumatra's mace, China's galangal, Borneo's cubeb pepper, Java's long pepper and Florentine orris root; in past times some blends have contained belladonna (very little of course!) and the terrible cantharis - more infamously known as Spanish fly - allegedly an effective and aphrodisiac beetle.

Our organic version which we created for Abel and Cole and is also online via our website, is less spicy and more floral than its non-organic counterpart. It still contains a staggering 17 different ingredients but has a hint of nuttiness from sesame and floral notes from rose and lavender.

Both blends are hand-blended in our eco-factory in North Yorkshire with as many ingredients as possible being organic and all from small independent producers. We can also assure you that it is completely vegetarian and suitable for vegans.

Here are some tasty recipe ideas to try: