It’s the spice of life! Well, maybe not exactly, but it is the spice that I most associate with my mom’s kitchen. Baharat is a blend of multiple warm and aromatic spices – cinnamon, cardamom, all spice, black pepper, nutmeg and cloves. You can add it to basically any food group – meats, fish, vegetables, grains. Here are a few examples of dishes that use it – kousa, vegetarian stuffed grape leaves, ras asfour, biryani, arabic curry, Iraqi pot roast, borek, and potato chop – to name a few!
It can be called bahar, which means spice in Arabic, or baharat, meaning spices. Many parts of the Middle East have their own versions of baharat. For example, some varieties may have coriander, cumin and paprika. Even within families there are different ratios of each spice used. We often make our baharat using whole spices which we grind down in an electric spice grinder. Buying whole, rather than ground spices in bulk allows your spices to stay fresher for longer. But, its absolutely ok to use ground, whole or any combination of either. We are always a fan of using your pantry first before buying new things.
The recipe we have here is compliments Amma Nezhat (our great aunt) and our Aunt Zina. Each spice is mixed in equal parts, and if you want to make more just increase everything to that amount, which we often do. Included in the recipe is the ground and whole conversions, thanks to Food 52. Feel to use this recipe as a base, and increase/decrease or add other spices as you like!
- 1 tsp ground black peppercorn (1 tsp peppercorns = 1 1/2 tsp ground pepper)
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (about 1 whole nutmeg)
- 1 tsp ground allspice (1 tsp allspice berries = 1 tsp ground allspice)
- 1 tsp ground cloves (1 tsp whole cloves = 3/4 tsp ground cloves)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (one 1 1/2-inch (4-centimeter) stick = 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
- 1 tsp ground cardamom (20 whole cardamom pods =
1 tsp ground cardamom. ~12 pods, dehusked (seeds only) = 1 tsp ground cardamom)
- Grind all spices and mix in equal proportions.
- If you want to make a larger volume just increase everything to that amount.
- Store in a sealed container or jar for up to a few months or longer. The more time that has passed, the less pungent the spice blend will be, but still totally usable. Dishes may require just a touch more or less baharat than a recipe calls for depending how long it has been stored or if it was ground from whole spice or pre-ground. As with any spice, adjust to taste when adding to any dish.