Ras el hanout is a complex, aromatic Moroccan spice that’s heralded in Moroccan cuisine. The literal translation from Arabic to English is “head of the shop,” suggesting its elite status.

Like curry, ras el hanout is a varying blend of more than 30 spices. While most recipes include cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, peppers and turmeric, no two versions are quite the same.

Ras el hanout is not a spicy blend, per say, but offers pungent, warm flavors with sweet accents. It’s commonly used in marinades, rubs, stews, sauces and tajines. Try it sprinkled on fresh popcorn sprayed with a little olive oil for a savory snack!

Chicken Rfissa

Compliments of Chef Crystal Baldwin

Serves: 8
Prep Time: 4-½ hrs. (Includes soaking/marinating time)
Cook Time: 1 hr.

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken, quartered
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup Market District extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1-½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. ras el hanout
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. saffron threads
  • 2 Tbsp. fenugreek seeds (soaked a minimum of 4 hrs.)
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. ghee

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix chicken with onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, ginger, ras el hanout, turmeric and saffron.
  2. Stir to coat well, cover and set aside to marinate for four hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Place the fenugreek seeds in a small bowl; cover with water and let soak while chicken is marinating.
  4. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add just the chicken and brown on all sides.
  5. Add the onion mixture to the pan and sauté for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the lentils, drained fenugreek seeds, cilantro, parsley and water.
  7. Cover and simmer over medium-low to medium heat until the lentils are tender and the chicken is cooked through, approximately 45 minutes.
  8. Stir in ghee. Serve over msemen or bread.

Note: Msemen is a rich traditional Arabian pancake-like bread. It is famous in the North African and Middle Eastern regions. Try shredding it into a steamer basket over the stew and steam with a lid for 10 minutes until tender and heated through.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving):

Calories 430, Fat 21g, Sat. Fat 4.5g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 65mg, Sodium 650mg, Total Carbohydrate 33g, Fiber 9g, Sugars 9g, Protein 30g, Vitamin A 8%, Vitamin C 20%, Calcium 8%, Iron 30%

Nutritional values are based on data from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.