Ras el hanout is subtly curry-like with a spicy yet floral fragrance and robust yet subtle flavor. Loosely translated, the name means “head of the shop,” representing the very best the spice merchant has to offer.
What makes this blend so special is the number of ingredients, sometimes over twenty, and the subtle manner in which all these unique spices merge to form a balanced, full-bodied blend with no sharp edges. (Serves 4)
3 cups water 1/2 cup black lentils 6 chicken thighs 1 large onion, finely chopped 2 Tbs. olive oil 4 garlic cloves 1/4 tsp.saffron 1/2 tsp.ginger powder 1/2 tspblack pepper ground, plus extra for seasoning the chicken 1/4 tsp.sea salt, plus extra for seasoning the chicken 1/2 tsp.turmeric powder 1 Tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped 2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, finely chopped 1/2 tsp.Ras el Hanout, plus extra for seasoning the chicken 1/4 tsp.fenugreek powder 1/3 cup water or chicken broth
Boil 3 cups of water in a small pot and add lentils. Cook lentils for 7 minutes and turn off the heat. (Do not drain until lentils are almost cooked.) Rinse the chicken thighs; remove any excess fat and leftover pin-feathers and pat dry. Season with salt, black pepper and ras el hanout. In a tagine or large casserole pot, add 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until brown, about 8 minutes. Add saffron, ginger, black pepper, salt, turmeric, ras el hanout and fenugreek; sauté for 3 more minutes. Add seasoned chicken to pot and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and cilantro. Cover and lower the heat. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Drain lentils. Turn chicken thighs over, add lentils and 1/3 cup of water or broth. Stir, taste the juice and adjust seasonings. Cook for 20 more minutes until lentils are soft and mostly absorbed.