One of the foodie treats I bought whilst in Marrakesh last week was a little of the spice mix 'Ras-El-Hanout'. It literally translates as 'top of the shop' and is a fragrant blend of rosebuds, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, lavender, ginger, pepper, mace and nigella seeds. Basically - it's all in there. Every shop has a slightly different blend. It is one of the mainstays of Moroccan cooking. Although, the purchase of said spice caused me some initial alarm, the shopkeeper replying to my inquiry with "Sure, how much do you want?...1 Kilo? 2 Kilo?" (he was winding me up). I managed to get away with purchasing 100g.....but I'm pretty sure the quality is excellent, the shop was suitably exotic located in a food market North of the Medina opposite a shop that appeared to sell snake skins!
I'd just like to point out for the purposes of the recipe below - you can get Ras-el-Hanout in the UK, most large supermarkets stock it somewhere in their spice sections, but I wanted some of the authentic real deal....and why not.
So, now back in the UK...I have a recipe in mind, it's from Nigella's 'Forever Summer', It uses 2 heaped Tablespoons of Ras-El-Hanout, it's incredibly simple- so sounds like just the job.
Moroccan Roast Lamb
1 Leg of Lamb, approx 2.5kg
1-2 Tbs Ras-el-Hanout
Juice of 2 Lemons
6 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic - minced.
Bunch of Fresh Coriander - chopped.
Combine the Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Ras-el-Hanout. Garlic and chopped Coriander in a bowl for form a paste.
Make incisions all over the leg of Lamb, and then push pinches of the mixture into the incisions - rubbing the remainder of the paste all over the Lamb.
Put into a large freezer bag, squeeze out any air and tie it up. Leave it to marinade in the Fridge overnight, or slightly longer.
To Cook, heat the oven to 200C and take the lamb out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
Put the Lamb in a roasting tin, and squeezing any marinade out of the bag over the meat.
Roast the Lamb for around 1 hour and 30 Min's.
It'll be blackened on the outside, and tender and pink within. Leave it to rest for at least 15 Min's before tucking in.
I served it as suggested by Nigella, with Sliced Red Onion, 'Cacik' (Which is the Turkish name for Greek Tsatsiki - Yoghurt, Mint, Cucumber, Garlic), and some flatbread - so we could make up our own Lamb wraps. (Can I just point out 'flatbread' as in the Khobez style seems to be impossible to find outside of London - use Pittas if you can't get any).
It all went very exotic in my little corner of Essex last night. I pulled out all the stops,
and served the meal on a couple of my newly acquired hand painted plates from Fes, that I haggled (very badly) for in the Marrakesh Souk, and despite paying well over the odds, I love them.
It tasted fantastic, I was very impressed....in fact quite it's possibly one of thes best things I've cooked so far this year.