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Essential Spices in Moroccan Cooking

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Essential Spices in Moroccan Cooking

Salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric are essential to many tagines and stews.

Christine Benlafquih

A wide variety of spices are used in Moroccan cooking to create rich, flavorful sauces and zesty – but not too spicy – side dishes and salads.

Fresh Spices are Best

Moroccans tend to go through their spice supplies quickly. This means that old, bitter spices are rarely an issue. For best results when cooking a Moroccan dish, make sure that you’re using fresh spices.

Four Basic Spices

If you have these four spices, you can get started making basic meat and vegetable tagines and stews.

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric

Other Common Spices

Here are some other spices you’ll frequently encounter in Moroccan cooking.

  • Saffron
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • White pepper

Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout is a mixture of ground spices. The name's literal translation from Arabic is “head of the shop," an expression which actually means "the best of the shop." Recipes for Ras El Hanout vary, but they frequently include cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric.

Complete List of Spices

Glossary of Spices Used in Moroccan Cooking lists more of the spices used in Moroccan cuisine.

Measuring Spices

Seasoning preferences vary widely, with most Moroccans cooking from memory and experience rather than following precise measures in a written recipe. Take the poll "How Accurately Do You Measure Spices" to see if readers are precise or approximate in how they measure.

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