• Beef, baharat and pine nut pies (sambousik) are Lebanon's equivalent to the Aussie meat pie. (Alan Benson)
Known as baharat or Lebanese 7-spice, this sweet, smoky and pungent blend widely used in cooking, and as a condiment, in the Middle East.
By
The Roo Sisters

5 Sep 2013 - 12:26 PM  UPDATED 23 May 2017 - 11:14 AM

Origins

From an Arab word simply meaning “spices”, baharat is a versatile blend widely used in cooking and as a condiment in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Jordan. Also commonly known as “Lebanese 7-spice”, it has fewer ingredients than the Moroccan blend ras el hanout, but similarly depends on a fine balance of spicy, sweet, bitter, hot, smoky, floral and pungent.

Ingredients depend on the country of origin. Lebanese-style baharat, which is usually a vibrant brick-red to burgundy colour, typically includes nutmeg, chilli or paprika, cloves, cassia, coriander, cumin, cardamom, allspice and black pepper (yes, that’s more than seven spices!). Turkish baharat often includes mint, while the version used in North Africa is a simple blend of cinnamon, dried rose petals and black pepper.

If you’re making baharat at home, buy the spices whole and grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice mill – it gives a superior taste compared to blending pre-ground ingredients. Keep in a sealed glass jar away from light or heat and discard after a few months.

 

Use baharat in ...

stews, tagines, kebabs, kofte, rice, vegetable and lentil dishes, sauces, soups, dips and as a condiment. It does wonders for lamb, rubbed into the meat before cooking or added to frying onion at the beginning of a slow-cooked casserole (and then pinched into the dish at the end, for good measure). It also adds zing to fish, chicken and beef, and is a key seasoning for the grilled chicken kebabs of Lebanon and Syria, shish tawuq. Virtually any savoury food that can be barbecued, from meat to seafood to vegetables, will benefit from a baharat marinade or rub. For an appealing hit of Middle Eastern colour, sprinkle it on roast potatoes, yoghurt dips, baba ghanouj or hummus, along with a drizzle of good olive oil. Baharat also matches beautifully with eggplant, zucchini and tomato, so works well in ratatouille. 

 

Baharat goes with ...

lamb, chicken, beef, pork, oily fish (such as mackerel, salmon and sardines), lentils, rice, couscous, potato, bread, chickpeas, tomato, onion, garlic, lemon, cucumber, eggplant, zucchini, pine nuts, parsley, mint, yoghurt, sesame seeds.

For more baharat recipes, head here.

 

Have we got your attention and your tastebuds? It’s all about Lebanese cuisine on The Chefs' Line airing weeknights at 6pm. Check out the program page for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more. 

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