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Get to Know Ras el Hanout, Berbere and Dukkah

While the standard American pantry contains spice blends like lemon pepper, Italian seasoning and taco seasoning, there are so many other flavors to experiment with. African spice blends add warmth and depth to dishes in unexpected ways. Looking for a new way to serve dinner? Try ras el hanout, berbere and dukkah!

What Are They?

Ras el hanout, berbere and dukkah are perhaps the most well-known spice blends of African cooking, used most frequently in Morocco, Ethiopia and Egypt. These blends vary from family to family and spice vendor to spice vendor. Ras el hanout, which means “top of the shop,” can have twelve or more individual ingredients! Typical ingredients in these blends include chiles, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, fennel seed, garlic, ginger and fenugreek. Dukkah also incorporates nuts and herbs.

These spice blends (particularly ras el hanout and berbere) are sold premade in the United States and can be found in the spice aisle, or sometimes along with the international foods. You can also make your own to suit your tastes. 

How to Use Spice Blends

Using these spice blends is as simple as using any of your other favorite spices, while taking note of the heat levels and adjusting accordingly. Here are some great ways to try them:

  • Use dukkah as a dip with bread and olive oil.
  • Rub ras el hanout or berbere onto meats before grilling, like our Berbere-Rubbed Rib-Eye Steaks with Grilled Lemon.
  • Mix into yogurt for a flavorful marinade.
  • Stir into cooked couscous, rice or quinoa for a savory side dish.
  • Use to flavor hearty stews or tagines, as in Ethiopian-Style Chickpea Stew.
  • Sprinkle dukkah on roasted carrots, eggplant or potatoes.
  • Mix into butter for a spicy spread.

Check out ras el hanout, berbere or dukkah the next time you want to liven up dinner!

Curious about what else is hot in the kitchen? Check out our posts on hemp seedspaiche and cherimoya.