Evan Loring serves as senior cloud solutions manager at Congruity, an IT solutions provider in Pembroke, Massachusetts. Outside of work, Evan Loring enjoys cooking and is especially fond of preparing spicy cuisines from places around the world like the Middle East. When making Middle Eastern dishes, individuals will need to add a few new ingredients to their pantry.
One of the most common ingredients is called ras-el-hanout. This ingredient is actually a blend made with about 30 different spices, although each merchant has a different formulation. The mixture can prove quite spicy, so prospective cooks should give it a taste to ensure it’s right for them before adding it to a recipe.
To bring heat to a dish, Middle Eastern recipes often call for Aleppo pepper, a Syrian spice that can be also found around the world. When using the pepper, individuals should look out for its seeds and choose a brand that comes in coarse flakes.
Za’atar is a flavorful spice blend that includes thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, sumac, and other dried herbs. The flavor of za’atar is very strong and distinct, so it should be used sparingly, but it is irreplaceable in recipes that call for it.
Another way to add spice to Middle Eastern dishes is through harissa. Originating in Tunisia, harissa consists of garlic, cumin, coriander, and chili pepper ground into a thick paste. Harissa is a versatile ingredient that can enhance the flavor of everything from fried olives to chickpeas.