What Is Bahārāt?
Bahārāt is a spice blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Like Indian garam masala or Morrocan ras el hanout, bahārāt spice blends vary widely by region and personal preference. Bahārāt consists of equal parts warm and aromatic (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom), floral and earthy (cumin and coriander), and fiery (black peppercorn and paprika). Like any spice blend, that’s only the beginning: Turkish bahārāt features dried mint, while North African bahārāt (specifically Tunisian bahārāt) features a central blend of rosebuds, cinnamon, and black pepper. In the Persian Gulf, bahārāt highlights black lime and saffron. Other variations may include citrusy sumac, cassia bark, turmeric, allspice, or star anise.
3 Ways to Use Bahārāt
Here are a few ways to use the flavorful spice blend in your home cooking:
- As a seasoning. Add bahārāt to ground beef to make kafta-style meatballs, or sprinkle the spice over butter-brushed flatbreads before serving. Adding a generous pinch of salt to bahārāt can amp up its flavor.
- As a dry rub. Bahārāt can impart a mild spiciness into meaty entrées. Coat lamb, chicken, beef, goat meat, or seafood with a generous sprinkle of bahārāt before grilling, or toss vegetables with a few teaspoons of bahārāt and olive oil before roasting.
- As a marinade. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to bahārāt to make the perfect base for a smoky-sweet marinade for grilled shrimp or baked chicken breast.
Easy Bahārāt Recipe
- 1 tablespoon cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- ½ tablespoon coriander seed
- ½ tablespoon cloves
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- Combine all ingredients in a medium skillet, and toast over low heat until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer spice mix to a spice grinder (a coffee grinder also works here) or mortar and pestle, and blend or crush into a fine powder.
- Store spice mixture in an airtight container between uses.
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