Ras El Hanout literally means "top of the shop". Ras was the title given to an Ethiopian king. What makes this Mediterranean blend so special is its vast number of ingredients - usually over 20 - and the subtle manner in which all these unique flavours merge to form a balanced, full-bodied blend with no sharp edges. Ras El Hanout is part of Steenbergs range of Arabic spice blends and Mediterranean spice blends.
Steenbergs is an artisan spice company based in rural north Yorkshire who create, blend and pack all their spices at their factory just north of the cathedral city of Ripon.
A good Ras Al Hanut Spice Mix is arguably the finest example of how blending a diverse collection of spices can come together to form a complete ingredient that is immeasurably greater than the sum of the parts taken individually. Every spice merchant has his/her own recipe but typically it is a complex mix of spices that embody the spice trade - there's Malabar's cardamom , Sumatra's mace , China's galangal , Borneo's cubeb pepper , Java's long pepper and Florentine orris root.
Ras al-hanut is a subtle, curry like with a spicy yet floral fragrance and robust yet subtle flavour. The notable aspect of ras al hanut is that, although it is by no means pungent, its effect on food is so pervasive that about half the amount of other spice blends is needed in any dish compared to say an equivalent curry powder. Alternative spellings include ras al-hanout and ras el-hanout.
Ingredients include Spanish saffron, rose petals, cubeb pepper, orris root amongst others. Unfortunately this blend cannot be organic as some of the ingredients we view as essential are not possible to buy organic. However, many of the spices we use in it are organic.