Ras el hanout is a complex Moroccan mixture of many spices, containing up to 100 different spices. The spices used depend on the available spices and the preferences of the person making it, who generally has their own unique blend. Some of the spices used are anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne, peppercorns, cardamom, mace, dried flowers (such as lavender and rose), nigella, galangal and turmeric. Ras el hanout is used in couscous, rice, vegetables and meat dishes.
Lamb Tagine - This Lamb tagine is prepared with onions, saffron, tomatoes, squash and chickpeas. The lamb is rubbed with the ras el hanout then marinated before cooking.
You can purchase this in specialty Middle Eastern markets. If you have a Willams Sonoma store in your area; they carry it. You can also find it online from various sellers on Amazon.com Ras el hanout.
Here is a recipe for making your own ras el hanout substitute at home. This one uses only a few spices. You can find a slightly more complex version here.
4 teaspoons cumin seed
5 teaspoons coriander seed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
16 whole cloves
20 allspice berries.
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Toast the whole spices in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat stirring constantly, until you can begin to smell the aroma. Remove them from the heat and allow them to cool.
Once the whole, toasted spices are cooled, put them in a small spice grinder (coffee mill) and grind until the mixture is a fine powder. Combine the freshly ground spices with the powdered spices and mix well with a fork. Store the spices in a tightly sealed jar.