Middle Eastern cuisine is full of delicious spice blends that will add flair to any of your weekly dishes. Many think Middle Eastern spice rubs are all characterized by warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. However, because the “Middle East” refers to such a wide area, there are a wide variety of spice rubs and blends you can find from Persia to North Africa.
While there are many different types of spice blends found in the Middle East, nearly all of them feature strong flavors that pair well with a wide variety of dishes. Adding them to your favorite dishes will blow your mind! In this article, we will break down 8 unique spice rubs that will forever change how you cook.
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice rub that is characterized by its vibrant green color and tangy flavor. Usually, za’atar consists of a mixture of green herbs like dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, or other similar herbs. These are usually mixed with sesame seeds, coriander, and cumin. This unique blend is tied together with sumac, a tangy and floral spice from the Middle East. Sumac is what gives za’atar its characteristic tangy undertones.
Za’atar spice can be used as a spice rub on chicken, lamb, or other meats. In addition, try putting za’atar on hummus, baba ganoush, or your other favorite Middle Eastern dip and serving it with fresh pita bread.
The Arabic word “baharat” actually translates to “spice” in English. Baharat is a complex spice blend that is characterized by its warming spices that many Western audiences will associate with hearty winter or fall dishes. Typically, baharat is composed of some sort of mixture of cumin, cloves, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, cardamom, peppercorns, and more.
Baharat is the perfect spice blend to add a dash of flavor to all kinds of dishes. Meatier dishes like machboos benefit greatly from the complex nature of baharat, but it can also be used to liven up stews, sauces, and rice dishes.
Advieh is a spice mix originating in Persia. What sets Advieh apart from other similar Middle Eastern spice rubs is the prominence of rose petals in its composition. There are many types of advieh, each with a different use. Advieh torshi is used for making pickles, while advieh ash is used in soups.
Usually, advieh is composed of rose petals, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and other spices, depending on which type is being made. Advieh is the perfect addition to Persian dishes like different “polo” rice dishes, as well as meats and stews.
4. Ras El Hanout
In Arabic, ras el hanout roughly translates to “head of shop” and is the name that was traditionally given to the best or top spice mix that a seller had to offer. Ras el hanout is usually found in Moroccan and North African cooking. Most often, ras el hanout is composed of a savory blend of spices like cumin, ginger, turmeric, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, and more.
Ras el hanout is set apart from other similar Middle Eastern spice blends like baharat by the turmeric and ginger that are often featured in it. These two ingredients give a light and refreshing nature to the spice blend. Ras el hanout is the perfect addition to Moroccan dishes like tagine or meat dishes like roasted chicken.
Dukkah is a famous Middle Eastern blend of warming spices, nuts, and seeds. Dukkah originated many years ago in Egypt. Dukkah is unique because, in addition to spices like cumin and coriander, it includes ground nuts like hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios. In addition, dukkah also usually features seeds like sesame seeds.
When combined together, these ingredients make an earthy and warming spice blend that is perfect for topping hummus or other dips. In addition, because it has larger pieces of nuts in it, dukkah works great as a crust for different meats or fish.
Harissa is a spicy and vibrant North African chili rub that will blow your mind when it comes to flavor and spice. Harrisa usually takes the form of a bright red, vibrant paste. Traditionally, harissa is made up of a blend of dried chiles, roasted red peppers, tomato paste, garlic, and spices like cumin and coriander. These dry ingredients are all blended together with oil to form the spicy harissa paste.
Harissa is the perfect addition to everything from eggs to chicken. The spice and tang of harissa make it especially delicious when combined with meat as either a marinade or dipping sauce.
Berbere is a unique Middle Eastern spice blend that is usually composed of chiles, fenugreek, garlic, and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Like harissa, berbere hails from North Africa. Compared to Middle Eastern spice blends originating in the Asian sub-continent, North African spice rubs like berbere and harissa generally include more chiles and garlic.
Berbere is a very versatile spice that can be used in everything from meat to sprinkling on fruit like pineapple for a spicy and sweet treat.
8. Shawarma Spice Blend
The shawarma spice blend is what is usually used to flavor shawarma, a popular Middle Eastern meat dish. Shawarma is usually thin slices of meat stacked up onto a metal pole, which acts as a vertical rotisserie. The meat is then cut off and often served on flatbread.
Shawarma spice usually combines cumin, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and more.
Hi, I’m Rana and I blog at ranasrecipe.com. My passion for food began very early in my life. And after managing a cafe, a granola business and helping other food businesses scale up, I found my true calling in creating wonderful recipes so that everyone can enjoy cooking as much as I do! Don’t forget to follow me on my social channels- instagram and pinterest.