With the world around me talking, tweeting and generally enthusing over their part in #NaNoWriMo I decided to get in on the game by writing a short piece on my blog every day through the month of November.
Amongst the plethora of spices and herbs in my kitchen cupboard I can name only a few that I would class as a ‘go to’ ingredient. One of these has to be the deliciously aromatic ras el hanout.
A traditional favourite in North African cuisine – ras el hanout is simultaneously floral and pungent – made with the very best spices available. The arabic name can be translated to mean ‘head of the shop’ and the array of ingredients in a typical mix demonstrate how it earned this name. It is my opinion that any good quality ras el hanout will always contain dried rose petals. Some of the other components may be:
Ras el hanout is excellent with mutton or lamb. For a vegetarian option it can also be used as a way of adding a touch of the exotic to your winter stew. Match with the strong irony flavour of kale, balance the earthy sweetness of beetroot or pair with robust lentils to create a dish even the most avid of meat eaters will love. Serve with rice, couscous or simply a big crust of fresh bread.
- 1-2 carrots
- 1 medium onion
- A bunch of kale or other dark winter greens
- One small squash
- Bay leaf or two
- One tin of tomatoes
- One tbsp of vegetable bouillon powder
- Half tbsp ras el hanout
- Tin of chickpeas
- Large handful of red lentils
Finely chop the onion and carrot before gently frying until soft and translucent.
Whilst they are cooking prepare the squash. Peel and cut into bite size pieces. Wash the kale and strip the leaves from the tough stalks. Set aside.
Return to your pan. Add the vegetable bouillon and ras el hanout, bay leaf and tinned tomatoes. Stir well. Pour over 250ml of water and stir again.
Rinse the chickpeas before tipping them into your stew along with the red lentils.
Simmer for around 45 minutes to an hour, until thick and glossy and all of your vegetables are cooked through. Taste as you go along, season to taste before serving.