A Chicken Dinner That's Reason Enough to Keep Ras el Hanout on Hand

May 12, 2016

The Moroccan spice mix ras el hanout gets its name from the Arabic phrase "top of the shop," or "top shelf," so you know it's good. A complex mix usually made from a dozen or more ingredients, it can contain allspice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and a number of other deeply flavorful, rich spices—and it's traditionally made from the best spices the spice merchant has to offer.

It makes whatever it touches incredibly flavorful, and has an almost curry-like flavor that's delicious when rubbed on lamb, fish, and chicken—as in this recipe for Moroccan-Spiced Chicken with Dates and Shallots.

Here, Pete cooks down brandied dates and adds them to chicken braised with a tomato paste-ras el hanout mixture. While the spice mix does most of the talking, the dates sweeten it and keep it from getting too loud, maintaining the dish's careful balance. Just make sure to serve it over rice so you can make the most of the sauce (and if you take a spoon directly from the pan, we won't tell).

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And once you've made the ras el hanout mix in this recipe, you'll have a jar's worth—the perfect excuse to fry up some fish or make this dish all over again with lamb or tofu. You're going to want to have it more than once.

What's your favorite way to use ras el hanout? Tell us in the comments below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • BoulderGalinTokyo
  • eatitoo.alli
  • Christina Chieffo
    Christina Chieffo
I eat everything.


BoulderGalinTokyo May 28, 2016
I first tried it in this winning Food52 recipe
Couldn't find ras el hanout in the stores here so I made my own from some downloaded recipe. Simple spices but what a powerful flavor combination! Really introduced me to delicious and different cooking!
eatitoo.alli May 14, 2016
I bought ras el hanout at a market in Marrakesh this past fall and they scooped the whole spices out of a big bin and ground them right in front of me. It was pretty epic! I like to use it in a yogurt based marinade for chicken or lamb. I'll try this recipe for sure!
Christina C. May 12, 2016
I've used ras el hanout with kosher salt as a steak rub. Then, serve with romaine lettuce and a lemon-parsley viniagrette.