I know, you thought this photo was of pigments right? Wrong, this is one example of the artful way in which spices are sold in Morocco. Yes, spices! No, not those little jars you buy in the grocery store, I'm talking about the real freshly ground thing, that plays heavily in the Middle Eastern/Northern African cuisine. So while the spice mix called "baharat" isn't exactly Moroccan, it's similar to a spice mix Moroccans might use, and in any case I just couldn't resist showing you these photos....look at those cloth bags, and the colors in those spice towers....great inspiration for something, right?
Baharat is a North African/Middle Eastern/Turkish spice mix. Baharat simply means "spice" in Arabic. A traditional baharat mixture is used similarly to the way Indians use garam masala, or the Moroccans use rat el hanuot, and may even apparently be used as a final flavor booster after a meal has been prepared.
This blend is often used to season lamb but I read that it is an all-purpose flavor enhancer useful for fish, chicken, beef, tomato sauces and soups, and that it’s a great addition to lentil dishes, pilafs and meatloaf. Or it can be used as a rub for virtually anything on the barbeque. While I actually purchased mine in the spice section at Super Sol (really Shufer Sol...) you can make it yourself with this recipe:
2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
My sealed bag of baharat hung out in the spice cabinet for a good year until a few weeks ago I decided to open it, and boy was I surprised! First of all, no matter how you use it, your house will smell like you are baking a delicious spice cake, and from what I can tell with my experimenting so far, you really can't go wrong assuming you like the taste in general.
Here's a list of how I've used it with the results:
1. As the main spice in my Moroccan meatball recipe, together with just turmeric and paprika. I used only ground chicken, which is preferable health-wise, and the results were amazing. Infact the spice gave the meat the color of my usual half meat/half chicken version, and they were so delicious and rich, seconds were requested!
2. As the main spice in a simple tomato sauce served over whole wheat pasta. Again I added some paprika, and turmeric, and the results were delicious. Even my daughter who has been passing on the tomato sauce liked it! (3 onions, 6 eyes of garlic chopped and sauteed, and then combined with 250g tomato paste, one or two fresh tomatos grated- a little Israeli secret, and water to achieve the consistency you enjoy.)
3. As a rub on grilled chicken. Good but would have been better had I combined with with oil and garlic and made a wetter rub.
Oh and by the way, wouldn't this be a great little gift? Make some yourself, or buy the ready made mixture, make some beautiful labels, package the mixture in nice little containers, possibly with a little circle of fabric tied around the top, jam style, and give as holiday gifts with some cooking ideas. You're welcome!