I’m a bit late to the game on the ras el hanout front. This ingredient has always seemed a bit too ‘Yotam Ottolenghi’ for me (meaning that it can’t be found easily in suburban Nottingham). But Tesco now stock it in their own brand spice range – a sure sign that it has entered the realms of commonplace.
Anyway, my sister gave me a little bag of it to try recently and so I set about finding a recipe.
Ras el hanout is a North African spice mix which translates as ‘head of the shop’ – as in the best spices the shop keeper has to offer. I have no idea exactly what was in my little unmarked bag, but according to Wikipedia, cardamom, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dried ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn and paprika are all commonly used.
I’m not sure why this recipe (a bastardised version of one of Jamie Oliver’s*) uses additional cinnamon, cumin, paprika and ginger if the ras el hanout is likely to include these already. Purists would probably insist of making up their own spice mix from scratch in any case, as with garam masala, curry powder, jerk seasoning, five spice and the like.
All I can say is that the final dish was delicious and very easy (if time consuming) to make.
When I was frying off the beef my son asked me if I was making mince pies. I can see why he said this because the cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in the spice mix does make it smell very Christmassy. I’m being a complete Grinch about Christmas at the moment so this is probably about as festive as my recipes on this blog will get this year.
*the original recipe can’t be trusted in any case. The comments section on Jamie’s website bought my attention to the fact that he uses teaspoons of spices in the TV series but tablespoons on the web.
- 1kg lean stewing steak cut into large (approx. 2.5 cm sq) chunks
For the marinade
- 1 tablespoon of ras el hanout
- 2 teaspoons of ground or whole cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- A little oil
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tin of chickpeas
- A knorr vegetable stock pot (or equivalent vegetable stock cube)
- 1 ½ cans of water
- 100g of dried apricots cut into quarters
- Toasted flaked almonds
- A good handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- Couscous (recipe here)
Place the beef in a bowl with all the marinade ingredients and mix them in with a wooden spoon or massage them in with your hands. Cover and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
When you are ready to cook, heat a little oil in a frying pan over a high heat and brown the meat all over. It is worth taking the time to make sure you get a really good dark brown colour on both sides as this helps with the final flavour. You will probably need to do this in a couple of batches depending on the size of your frying pan.
Fry off the onion in the same pan until brown.
Place the beef and onion in a lidded casserole dish along with the can of tomatoes, apricots, chickpeas and stock pot/cube. Cover with 1 and a half tins of water (using the tin from either the tomatoes or chickpeas to measure). Bring the mixture to the boil on the hob and then cover.
Place in an oven preheated to 180oC for 1 hour.
Then reduce the temperature to 150oc and cook for a further 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
Make sure to check the pot at regular intervals (about every 30 mins) to give it a little stir and add a little extra water if the sauce is becoming too dry.
Just before serving mix in a good handful of chopped, fresh coriander.
Serve over a steaming bowl of cous cous or rice and garnish with more coriander and lightly toasted flaked almonds.
PS. If, unlike me, you are feeling the yuletide spirit then you may like to try one of my Christmas recipes from previous years.