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Like many Moroccan cauliflower recipes, the spices used are similar, but everyone adds their own secret spice(s) to change the flavor profile a bit. Provided, are a few variations that you may add to the basic blend. Ras el hanout is a spice blend well known and used in North Africa, namely Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. This popular blend is similar to what garam masala is to India. If you;re tired of the same old cauliflower recipes or similar vegetables such as broccoli, give this Moroccan recipe a try. It’s extremely flavorful and delicious. Add some heat as well if you’d like. (See variations at the bottom of the recipe.)
Ras el Hanout Translation
Ras el Hanout literally translates to “head of the shop” meaning the best spices in the shop. I would imagine depending upon the freshness of the spices in the shop will depend on what is used to make the blend for that week/month.
For the Ras el Hanout Spice Blend:
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ground cloves
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground peppercorn
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
For the Cauliflower:
- 1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil plus more for skillet
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout blend above spice blend
- 1 large head cauliflower florets with stems cut off if frying in skillet
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside in an even layer to air dry.
Combine the spices for the above listed blend; set aside.
Combine the 1 tablespoon of spice blend with 1/4 cup oil; stir and set aside for at least 5 minutes.
Preheat a heavy skillet. (I like to use cast iron for excellent browning.) Lightly coat with some oil once preheated and swirl around the skillet.
Add some oil into a shallow dish and dip the cauliflower into the spiced oil. Lay each piece in the hot skillet and weigh them down with something heave like a steak weight or another heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Cook until brown and slightly tender. Remove the heavy object and baste more oil on the tops of the cauliflower and turn them over. Cover and continue to cook on medium heat until it reaches your desired tenderness.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Hot: Add a little ginger, chili powder, or tiny bit of cayenne pepper for heat.
Licorice: Add fennel or anise seed to/ create a black licorice flavor.
Perfume: Add a little ground oris root, or culinary food-grade dried lavender petals/buds or rose petals/buds ground in a coffee grinder or using a mortar and pestle, for a slight floral scent.
Making It Less Fattening and Frying vs Baking
You can deep-fry this cauliflower like the classic Moroccan cauliflower recipe or you can fry them in a little oil, as I do. Besides reducing the oil, you can lightly coat the cauliflower in oil and season with the spice blend. Then, bake it in a preheated oven at about 420ºF until it browns and meets your desired tenderness., about 45 minutes or longer if you prefer them soft.