Ras el hanout
Ras el hanout (Arabic:رأس الحانوت) is a popular blend of herbs and spices is used across the Middle East and North Africa. The name means "head of the shop" in Arabic, and refers to a mixture of the best spices a seller has to offer.
There is no set combination of spices that makes up Ras el Hanout, but most versions contain over a dozen spices, including cardamom, mace (spice), nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground chili peppers. 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, and the potentially toxic belladonna and insects such as the beetle known as Spanish fly (however, the sale of Spanish fly was banned in the spice markets of Morocco in the 1990s). Usually all ingredients are toasted and then ground up together. Individual recipes are often improvised.
- 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