Something for a happy ending and a new beginning ;D – Ras el Hanout Celebration with blueberries, fried zucchini, sour onion and sweet potato
This dish really is a party on a plate (sorry for the bad joke but it really is). All quite different flavours somehow coming together in harmony. It is inspired by a recipe of Laurent Med Khellout who wrote a whole book on this spice blend. It takes around an hour to prepare, but it is not very complex as you can really cook it step by step. Go to the website for the whole recipe. Click on the bio link.
Why is this dish with Ras el Hanout a good ending and beginning? Because it is the perfect blend to see what spices you still have in your kitchen cabinet, and throw the really old ones away, use the others and start fresh in the new year. It is impossible to really mess up this blend because there are no real rules about its flavour but you can develop it into your own preferred perfection. See below the recipe for more on Ras el Hanout and who to make it.
- Ras el hanout – when you mix it yourself paprika powder, The Good Spice Ceylon cinnamon, black pepper, cumin and/or coriander seeds are essential, for the rest use what is in your kitchen cabinet already.
- 8 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 1 big red onion
- 3 zucchinis (courgette)
- Two hands of blueberries
- Black pepper
- Vegetable or sunflower oil
1.Put on the oven on 200°. Start with making the Ras el Hanout if you mix it yourself. See below for the mix.
2.Wash the sweet potato well and cut into four or eight parts if it is a big one. Put them in the oven with oil and some salt for forty to fifty minutes until they are a bit brown.
3. Then cut the zucchini in sticks about the length and thickness of a finger. Put them in a colander and cover and mix them with a big spoon of salt. Make sure all are covered. This will pull the water out of the zucchini. Put aside until the last step of the dish.
4. Cut the red onion in thin half-moons and cover them with vinegar and a tsp salt. Mix well and also put on the side.
5. Put the blueberries in a small pan with a thick bottom. Add a little water that will cover the bottom of the pan. Put on a low fire. Check from time to time if there still is enough water. The berries should get soft, warm and a bit juicy. If the berries are not so sweet add some sugar.
Check the sweet potatoes now: if they look almost ready just put the oven off but leave them in to keep them warm, so you can take your time for the last step of the dish: frying the zucchini.
6. Put a finger tip of oil in a pan and put on high fire. Take two plates, cover one with a handful of flour and the other with some toilet or kitchen paper. The zucchini finger should be a bit damp now. Roll them in the flour and when the oil is warm enough – test with one if it makes a bubbling sound – put about ten in the pan. Not many more because this will cool down the oil. Bake them until light brown on all side and let them leak on the plate with paper. Be patient with this step. The crispiness will really add to the flavour of the dish.
When all zucchini is done, start building the plate. First the sweet potato, then the zucchini, then add the juicy blueberries, the sour red onions, and top off by sprinkling a big tsp of Ras el Hanout over the dish.
Enjoy your party!
Ras El Hanout
Ras El hanout means ‘the best of the spice store’ or in Dutch ‘specerijen van de bovenste plank’. Thus, it is a mix of all the best spices you can find. In my opinion – feel free to disagree – there are only four essential spices in it: paprika powder, Ceylon cinnamon, black pepper, cumin and/or coriander seeds. The others will enrich this blend of sweet, spicy and earthy flavours even more.
Others you can add: curcuma, cardamom, nutmeg (nootmuskaat), cloves (kruidnagel), allspice (piment), anise, ginger, chilli flakes.
To increase the flavour bake the seeds (so not the powders) in an warm baking pan without oil for about 2 minutes or until you start to smell them
Feel free to experiment but here an indication of the amounts. You can take one spoon as one part:
- 5 parts paprika powder
- 3 parts cinnamon
- 1,5 parts black pepper
- 1,5 part coriander seeds
- 1,5 part cumin seeds
- 1,5 parts curcuma powder
- 1 part ginger powder
- 0,5 part allspice
- 0,25 part cardamom
- 0,25 part cloves
- 0,5 part nutmeg
- 0,25 part anise
- 0,5 part chili flakes
You can keep the mix for about a month in a closed jar.