International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Baharat

Baharat, a Middle Eastern spice blend

Middle Eastern spice blend

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Baharat is a flavorful spice blend — baharat (بَهَارَات) simply means "spices" in Arabic — used to season dishes throughout a crescent-shaped region of the Middle East, stretching from Lebanon and Syria, through Iraq and down the Arabian peninsula to the Yemeni coast.

While individual recipes vary widely, baharat is usually made from a base of paprika and is flavored with the punchy heat of peppercorns and the soothing sweetness of cloves, cassia and nutmeg.

Use baharat to season meat, poultry, seafood and even vegetables. To make a simple marinade, mix a tablespoon or two with some olive oil and a little lemon or lime juice and rub all over the item to be marinated.

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • Sweet paprika -- 1/3 cup
  • Peppercorns -- 1/4 cup
  • Whole cumin seeds -- 3 tablespoons
  • Whole coriander seeds -- 2 tablespoons
  • Whole cloves -- 2 tablespoons
  • Whole cardamom seeds, white husks removed -- 1 tablespoon
  • Cassia or cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces -- 2
  • Whole nutmeg -- 1

Method

  1. Add the paprika to a large bowl. Finely grind the peppercorns in a spice or coffee grinder and add to the paprika.
  2. Place an ungreased skillet over medium flame until well heated. Add the cumin, coriander, cloves and cassia or cinnamon, and stir until the whole spices are lightly toasted and begin to release their aroma.
  3. Remove the toasted spices to the spice or coffee grinder and grind finely. Add to the bowl with the paprika and peppercorns.
  4. Use a nutmeg grater to grate about one half of the whole nutmeg into the bowl with the other spices. Stir all the spices together and store in a well sealed container in a dark, cool cupboard.

Baharat Variations

  • Quick and easy baharat: Mix together 1/3 cup paprika, 2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons of ground cumin and 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon.
  • Other spice additions: For added flavor, mix in some chopped mint, ground allspice, ground dried lime, saffron or sumac. Other common additions to kabsa spice mix include turmeric, fennel seed, ground ginger and bay leaf.

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