Copycat Recipe for NY Shuk Ras El Hanout?

I batch-cook a lamb curry for my Mom every week and an ingredient that’s really raised it up to another level is NY Shuk ras el hanout. It’s not always available where I live though, and it’s pretty expensive given the quantities I use. I’d like to make my own large batch at home, but I haven’t been able to duplicate the flavor with my own whole spices. None of the ras el hanout recipes I’ve found online gives me the same flavor. The label lists the ingredients as “Coriander seeds, Ginger, Clove, Green Cardamom, Turmeric, Spices & Sunflower Oil.” I’m pretty sure NY Shuk’s version has some fennel in it, which I know isn’t traditional, but just adding fennel to a those other ingredients doesn’t get me where I want to be with the flavor. I’ve tried adding amchur, fenugreek, and asafoetida too. I know it’s a long shot, but has anyone managed to make a close approximation to this particular brand’s ras el hanout at home? What am I missing?

Thank you.

What ingredients have you included so far?

Like garam masala and other complex blends, home recipes often leave out what they may consider obscure or hard to obtain ingredients. (And sometimes those are expensive enough individually to warrant the high price of a blend that includes them. Have you tried less any expensive brands?)

I was wondering about mace, but looking around there’s a whole long list of things even I don’t have in my own hoard of obscure ingredients :joy:

ash berries
grains of paradise
orris root
dried rosebuds

black pepper
red chilli powder / cayenne / paprika
bay leaves (but western and eastern have different flavors)
fennel seed / anise seed

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Hi saregama! I think I remember you from Chowhound. Were you once on a quest for a very deep, dark, almost bitter chocolate cake recipe? I think we had a discussion about how those dark, almost tea-like chocolate flavors especially appeal to Indian palates (I’m Indian too). It’s so nice to find this little enclave of former Hounds.

I’ve tried a few combinations, mostly working from existing recipes online because I wanted to get a grasp of what is generally meant by ras el hanout. None of those recipes come close to what I get with NY Shuk though. I only tried one other premade. I believe it was from Spiceology. Too cinammony and too much like a tagine seasoning mixed with cheap garam masala.

NYS’s ras el hanout flavor reminds me of mutton curry my aunt made in Bombay which was sort of a fusion of our native Kerala preparations and North Indian restauranty flavors: a base of typical curry spices—coriander seed, cumin, turmeric, cloves, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, with some cinnamon, ginger, and fennel, maybe a hint of dried mint and/or fenugreek, and something tangy that’s not tamarind, which is what led me to the amchur. My experiments with adding these things were fine, but missed the magic.

I’m going to go through your list and try some of those add-ins. You may be right that the winning combination could require ingredients that make it as expensive to make from scratch as to buy premade.

Thank you!

Yes re chowhound, and I remember you too — I’m glad to see you here!

I actually emailed NY Shuk to ask about the unnamed spices (figuring they might not have an issue disclosing, as many people have allergen concerns these days) — would you believe that the unlisted spices are Cinnamon, Mace (HA!) and Star anise (another HA! for your fennel addition for the licorice note).

Now, of course, you have to get the balance right :joy:. Maybe you can mix the powder and do a taste comparison of it vs the purchased one? Rather than wasting a whole batch of curry that is.

(In north indian preps it’s often something like mace or long pepper that’s missing, or along the west coast stone lichen, or for eastern recipes radhuni, and they’re such subtle but critical components that it can drive you nuts when you try to recreate a flavor memory, because most recipes will leave them out :joy:)

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Wow! Thank you SO much!

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