Baharat (7 Spice): The Ingredient giving Arab Food its Distinct Flavor
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
The famous Arab spice mixture baharat (meaning “spices” in Arabic), also known as 7 Spice, is the flavor behind many popular Arab foods. Baharat is a finely crafted combination of 7-8 spices, whose flavors, when mixed together, create an aromatic seasoning perfect for a variety of dishes.
A typical baharat mixture includes: ground black pepper, paprika, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and cloves. Most Arabs do not have a specific recipe for baharat that they strictly abide by because the blend varies so much from home to home and region to region.
The spice blend is used heavily in the Levant (Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria) and can be found in souqs, or outdoor markets, across the region and Arab world. Travelers often buy large bags of the spice to take home, filling their suitcases with the strong aroma.
In America, Arab grocery stores sell the spice blend in containers, but nothing beats picking up each individual spice and blending it at home for a personal touch. If you own a spice blender, you’re sure to get the best possible flavors by grinding together the ingredients.
Baharat can be used to season rice, couscous, lamb, chicken, beef, fish, eggs, vegetables, potatoes, and soup. Essentially, baharat is a universal ingredient, but that does not mean all Arab food tastes the same. By pairing baharat with different ingredients, such as yogurt, citrus, or broth, it becomes a unique, but familiar, flavor.
Try making the spice blend at home with this recipe. One of the most popular uses of baharat is as a spice rub on lamb or rice. Add it to your next dish to experience the authentic Middle Eastern flavors at home.
- 1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Mix all the spices together and store in a hermetically sealed container away from both heat and light.
It would also make a great gift if you place it in a decorative jar and present it with a ribbon to your friend!