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Head of the Shop

Sometimes we get used to cooking with certain spices, but every now and then its good to break out of our normal culinary box and embark on a culinary adventure by trying a new spice or spice blend. You will be amazed at how much excitement can happen in the kitchen!

Take for example, ras el hanout,some of you may have heard about this exquisite spice blend and some of you might have even used it, but if you haven't, then you are in for a real treat.

Ras el hanout, loosely translated in Arabic means head of the shop which refers to the best spice the store has to offer. This king of spice blend reigns supreme in most North African cuisine, particularly Moroccan food. I recall as a child when I used to accompany my mother to the spice bazaar where each shop had their own unique ras el hanout.

But mostly, ras el hanout is made up of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, mace, nutmeg, paprika, peppercorn, and turmeric. Some spice merchants might add an array of other ingredients like chufa, cubeb berries, or dried-rosebuds to create a full-bodied ras el hanout. Whatever the case, these spice merchants know exactly how much to add, and the right spice to use to give balance and flavor.

Even though ras el hanout is a complex blend, it is one of the most versatile seasoning to use in cooking up an exquisite exotic meal. In addition to being the perfect rub or marinade for meat and fish, it also adds another dimension of flavor to vegetables, and especially to roasted or grilled chicken.

Of course, being that my parents were from Morocco, we used to add ras el hanout to many of our favorite dishes, such as couscous and vegetables. I might dare you to try sprinkling a dash or two on your favorite chocolate desserts for that extra punch in flavor doesn't that sound good?

If you haven't already kept a container of ras el hanout on-hand in your pantry, then you might be missing out on something very extraordinary in the kitchen. You will be surprised just how much you fall in love with this amazing spice blend.

In the meantime, try your hand at making one of my favorites - Chicken Ras el Hanout -- enjoy!

Chicken Ras el Hanout - click link