What is Ras el Hanout? A direct translation of this from Arabic, according to Dr Google, means from the top shelf. The north African spice souks apparently blended the best spices together to form these wonderful aromatic blends to make any meal interesting.
You may buy this blend from most places, but it is rare to find it at Coles or Aldi. A spice souk stall at a market or a specialist food place around Brisbane may hold it. Otherwise, you may buy all the ingredients and make it yourself.
Moroccan roasted vegetables
Makes veggies for four
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into half thumb sized chunks
1 large, orange sweet potato, peeled and cubed to the same size
1 red onion thickly sliced
Half a cup of dried apricots cut in half length ways
A pinch of salt
A pinch of chili
1 tablespoon of Ras El Hanout
Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees celsius
Place your veggies and onions in a large mixing bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil, being enough to coat your veggies without making them too oily. Sprinkle your spices and your salt onto your veggies. If you have some, put on a food preparation glove and mix through the spices thoroughly, ensuring that all your veggies are evenly coated with seasoning.
Lay some baking paper on a large baking tray and spread your veggies onto it. Ensure there is sufficient space for your vegetables to cook evenly. Overcrowding the tray will result in undercooked vegetables.
Set a timer for 25 minutes and bake. When the timer goes off, remove the veggies from the oven, add the apricots and using a spatula, turn the vegetables. It doesn’t need to be surgical. Simply ensure that most of the veggies are turned over will mean even browning.
Bake for another 20 minutes and serve over the fancy but not really rice:
When I was a poor student, this was one of my favourite things to make any meal feel more fancy. If you really want to make it fancy you can turn it into a pilaf with peas and some cashews. But here is the rice I served today:
1.5 cups of basmati rice
A pinch of salt
A small drizzle of low taste oil
Half a teaspoon of Chinese five spice (found at any Coles, woollies or Aldi)
2 or so cups of water
Half a cup of raisins
The reduction method
Years ago, my friend taught me how to make rice through the reduction method and it is the best. I hardly ever measure when I make it, but have learned how to make it by sight and sound.
On a low heat, place the oil and five spice in a medium based small pot, preferably with a glass lid.
Add the rice and stir through the oil
Add the water until there is about 1.5cm water sitting over the rice
Add the salt and the raisins and stir through
Place the lid on the rice, turn the heat up to high and wait for the rice to start boiling. Once the rice comes to the boil, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer until the water reduces to near nothing. This will take approximately 10-15 minutes maximum. When the water appears to have disappeared, take the lid off, allow the steam to dissipate so you don’t burn yourself and then listen. If there is a slight crackling, turn the heat off and replace the lid. Allow the rice to steam for about 2 minutes. Take a fork and fluff the rice and it is ready to serve.
Add hummus, seasonal salad, and some citrus to bring that fresh, tang to balance the earthy, aromatic flavours.