Ras El Abed Recipe: A Flavorful Journey Through Moroccan Cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is known for its rich flavors and aromatic spices, and one dish that truly captures the essence of Moroccan cooking is Ras El Abed Recipe. This article will take you on a culinary journey through the heart of Morocco as we explore the history, ingredients, and step-by-step instructions for preparing this delicious and fragrant dish.

What is Ras El Abed?

A Moroccan Delight

Ras El Abed, also known as “Ras El 3abed” or “Ras El 3abid,” is a traditional Moroccan dish that originates from the coastal city of Casablanca. It’s a flavorful and hearty tagine (a North African stew) featuring succulent lamb or beef, aromatic spices, and a medley of vegetables. The name “Ras El Abed” translates to “Head of the Slave” in Arabic, a reference to the generous portions of meat traditionally used in this dish.

The Essence of Moroccan Cuisine

Ras El Abed is a quintessential Moroccan dish that embodies the culinary traditions of the country. It’s a harmonious blend of sweet and savory flavors, featuring ingredients like dried fruits, honey, and a unique spice blend known as Ras El Hanout. This dish is often reserved for special occasions and celebrations, showcasing the warmth and hospitality of Moroccan culture.

Ingredients for Ras El Abed Recipe

The Spice Blend: Ras El Hanout

The secret to the distinct flavor of Ras El Abed lies in the spice blend known as Ras El Hanout. This blend typically includes a combination of the following spices:

  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Black pepper

Meat and Vegetables

  • 1.5 pounds (680g) lamb or beef, cut into cubes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried prunes, pitted
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Ras El Hanout spice blend
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Cooking Ras El Abed Recipe

Step 1: Searing the Meat

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or tagine over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté until they become translucent and fragrant.
  3. Add the meat cubes and brown them on all sides. Season with salt, pepper, and Ras El Hanout.

Step 2: Building Flavor

  1. Once the meat is browned, add the diced tomatoes and chickpeas. Stir to combine.
  2. Pour in enough water to cover the meat, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Cover the pot or tagine and let it cook on low heat for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the meat becomes tender and easily falls apart.

Step 3: Adding Sweetness

  1. As the meat simmers, add the chopped dried apricots and prunes to the pot. These dried fruits will infuse the dish with a delightful sweetness.
  2. Drizzle the honey over the mixture and stir gently to distribute the sweetness evenly.

Step 4: The Final Touch

  1. In a separate pan, toast the slivered almonds until they turn golden brown.
  2. Once the meat is tender and the dried fruits have softened, sprinkle the toasted almonds over the Ras El Abed.
  3. Garnish the dish with fresh cilantro leaves for a burst of color and freshness.

Conclusion: Ras El Abed Recipe

Ras El Abed is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of Moroccan culture and flavors. This aromatic dish brings together the warmth of North African hospitality, the richness of spices, and the sweetness of dried fruits, creating a symphony of tastes and textures on your palate. Whether you’re preparing it for a special occasion or simply to savor the taste of Morocco, Ras El Abed is a culinary journey worth embarking on.


1. Can I substitute chicken or fish for the meat in Ras El Abed?

While traditional Ras El Abed uses lamb or beef, you can certainly experiment with chicken or fish if you prefer. Keep in mind that cooking times may vary, so adjust accordingly to ensure your chosen protein is cooked to perfection.

2. Is Ras El Abed a spicy dish?

Ras El Abed is known for its aromatic spices, but it’s not necessarily spicy in terms of heat. The Ras El Hanout spice blend imparts flavor and complexity without overwhelming spiciness. However, you can adjust the level of heat to your preference by adding chili or red pepper flakes.

3. What side dishes complement Ras El Abed?

Traditional Moroccan sides like couscous, flatbread, or a simple salad with cucumbers and tomatoes are excellent choices to serve alongside Ras El Abed. These sides provide a balance to the rich and flavorful main dish.

4. Can I prepare Ras El Abed in advance?

Yes, Ras El Abed actually benefits from sitting for a while, as the flavors continue to meld. You can prepare it in advance and reheat it when you’re ready to serve, allowing the dish to develop an even richer taste.

5. Are there vegetarian versions of Ras El Abed?

Absolutely! You can create a vegetarian Ras El Abed by omitting the meat and using vegetable broth instead. The combination of chickpeas and a variety of vegetables, along with the aromatic spices, will still result in a delicious and satisfying dish.

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