Several years ago my dad turned 60, and so, as a surprise for him and an excuse to go on a great family holiday, we decided go to Morocco all together for Christmas. The whole trip was amazing, in particular self-driving over the Atlas Mountains in some pretty dodgy hire cars.
One of the biggest highlights was undoubtedly the food. The discovery of Beef & Prune Tagine still makes the hairs on the back of my neck tingle and gets my saliva glands going. The Moroccans just ‘get it’ when it comes to food and creating depth of flavour. They use great ingredients, fresh spices, generally just slow-cook the hell out of food, and utilise sweet & savoury ingredients that create melt-in-the-mouth dishes. There’s easy access to excellence everywhere you go - and it’s cheap.
Since that eye-opening trip I have been meaning to create my own Moroccan Spice Mix, and since the birth of Spice Kitchen earlier this year I have constantly been thinking about when I would get the chance to create my own Moroccan blend. Last night, the time was finally right, and I am pleased to say I am delighted with the result.
After much research, I had to start with ‘Ras El Hanout’. Known as the 'head of the shop' in North Africa, the name implies a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. This was music to my ears, as we genuinely pride ourselves on sourcing the highest quality spices from all our suppliers, constantly changing and improving wherever we can.
For the signature ‘Ras El Hanout’, we trawled through endless recipes, and also tested blends using varying proportions of ingredients, along with different spices and combinations. What people do not realise is that the freshness of your spices will have a major impact on the taste of the finished blend.
Our current star anise, for example, is so fresh that even a tiny bit too much will overpower any spice blend – or any dish it’s used in. There are also various types of the similar spice barks cinnamon and cassia on the market. Using various combinations of the two can deliver a vast spectrum of ‘cinnamon-ny’ (new made up word of the day) tastes flowing through.
So, 6 years on from the family trip where I first properly fell in love with Morocco and all that it stands for, our very own Ras El Hanout has been perfected. The smell is honestly divine, and it’s arrival timely. We’re preparing a Moroccan banquet for the whole family over Christmas, and I can’t wait to use it.
As for the rest of you, you’ll have to hang on a little longer. We will be releasing this blend sometime in the New Year, along with some other interesting developments from Spice Kitchen HQ. And everything we sell is guaranteed, as always, to be brought to you with love.
Besseha w raha to you all (Cheers and good health)!