A list of some of the best and amazingly aromatic Mediterranean spices to add to your meals and give it the sunny Mediterranean flair that are big on flavours and good for your health.
If you happen to be on a healthy lean diet, then using Mediterranean seasonings will change the game of turning boring salads, soups and bland vegetables into something truly exotic.
Apart from regular herbs and spices, there are many distinctive spice blends which are typical to a region and provide that instant lift and authenticity to your meals.
What are the Mediterranean Herbs and Spices?
There are many different types of herbs and spices used in the Mediterranean region. Most of seasonings are aromatic rather than spicy and use a blend of different types of herbs.
Some of the popular herbs and spices in Mediterranean food are: cumin, coriander, cardamom, sumac, smoked paprika, nutmeg, rosemary, parlsey,
What is Mediterranean Flavour?
The Mediterranean region consists of a wide area surrounding the Mediterranean sea.
It stretches from the North African tip of Albania, Algeria, Libya through the European counties of Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, right across to Turkey.
So needless to say Mediterranean cuisine is as diverse and interesting.
The main focus of Mediterranean food is the use of whole grains, lean meats and the use of aromatic spices to bring life to your dishes.
There is an extensive use of nuts, herbs, aromatic spices such as cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, paprika, allspice to name a few.
If I was to describe how does Mediterranean food taste then I would probably classify it as primarily aromatic as opposed to spicy.
List of Must – Have Mediterranean Spices
Given the fact that the two European spice Mecca of Morocco and Turkey fall under the expanse of the region covered by Mediterranean cuisine it is a no brainer that spices form an integral part in Mediterranean cooking.
Below is a list of some of the mot popular Mediterranean spices and Spice blends used in the region.
They not only uplift the flavour of your meals but are true effortless taste enhancers.
What is Berbere
An unusual mix of different flavoured spices all mixed together giving this spice its own individual peppery – sweet taste.
Region – Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti.
How does Berbere Taste – A blend of hot, sweet and bitter spices gives this African spice blend a perfect balance of flavours!
How to use Berbere for Cooking – Mostly used to make stews, soups. Can also be used to make dry rubs for meats, marinates and also as seasoning to most semi-dry veg and non-veg dishes.
Typical ingredients used to make Berbere – Paprika, Coriander, Fenugreek, Peppercorn, Allspice, Garlic, Ginger, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Cinnamon
What is Harissa – Made with different types of peppers that makes it spicy and fragrant at the same time.
One of the most popular spicy Mediterranean spice blend, Harissa is mostly found ready-made in jars and pastes.
You can also find it as a spice blend, that can be added directly to the dishes.
Region – North Africa, Tunisia and the Middle East
How does Harissa Taste– Spicy, hot and smoky
How to use harissa in cooking – Good for rice dishes, couscous, Arabic mezze or just for seasoning at the table.
For making it into a paste simply mix the spice mixture with oil.
It can be used to enhance soups, stews, appetizers and main dishes. Use it as a marinade for meat and fish. Add it to other dips like hummus or yogurt to give it a depth of flavour.
Typical Ingredients used to make Harissa – Chili, pepper, cumin, coriander, garlic, paprika, salt.
What is Ras el Hanout – Ras el Hanout means “top of the shop” in Arabic, The name suggests that it is made with the best quality spices in the shop.
It is the go-to spice blend for Moroccan cuisine. A versatile, fragrant Mediterranean spice blend that goes well with literally anything.
Region – North Africa and Moroccan
How does Ras el Hanout Taste– Ras el Hanout is not a spicy spice blend, instead, it has a pungent, warm flavour.
It also has a floral note depending on the type of ingredients used.
How to use Ras-el Hanout for cooking – This popular blend is used in almost all tagine recipes.
Makes an aromatic and fragrant rub for meats and adds flavour to soups and stews.
Can also be used as a seasoning for making dips and sauces.
Typical ingredients used in Ras el Hanout – Cumin, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cloves, Nutmeg, Mace, Turmeric, Rosebuds
What is Chermoula – An vibrant mix of herbs and spices. The name is taken from the Arabic verb ‘Chermel’, which means to rub or marinate something in spices.
Region – Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia
How does Chermoula taste– This is not a hot spice. It has a garlicky and sweet spicy taste.
How to use Chermoula for Cooking – The spice mix is popularly used to marinade fish and as a seasoning for seafood.
Traditionally Chermoula comes in a paste form made with fresh lemon juice and herbs.
You can add the powdered spice blend with lemon juice and make into a marinade for chicken, meat and fish. Can also be used as a dry rub for grilling.
Typical ingredients used to make Chermoula – Coriander, Cumin, Paprika, Dried Parsley, Dried Coriander leaves
What is Piri Piri – Piri Piri or Peri Peri is a type of spice and an African word for “chilli”.
A very popular spice mix with its own regional variations used mainly for grilling. Spicy, fiery and zesty this mix of spices is sure to tickle everyone’s taste buds!
Region – Portugal, Brazil and North Africa
How does Peri peri taste– Hot and spicy with a hint of tanginess.
How to use Peri Peri for cooking -Commonly used as a spice rub for chicken and meat.
It can also be used as a marinade for fish and seafood.
Try it as a seasoning to spice up your vegetables especially potatoes. You can also make a piri flavoured dip or sauce.
Typical ingredients used on Peri Peri – Crushed bird eye Chillies, Paprika, Pimiento, Citrus peel, Onion Powder, Bay leaves, Basil
What is it Dukkah seasoning – Dukkah means “to pound or to crush” Its a coarsely ground dry spice blend made with spices, seeds, and roasted nuts
Region – Egypt, North African and also popular in the Middle East
How does Dukkah taste– Tangy, nutty with a fresh herby tone.
How to use Dukkah for cooking – Used as a condiment for making dips mixed with olive oil, adding texture and crunch to meat, fish, chicken tofu. Can also be used as a seasoning for fruits, vegetables, rice, lentils etc.
Typical ingredients used for making Dukkah – Sesame seeds, toasted nuts mixes like Hazelnuts, Almonds, Mint, Thyme, Coriander and Cumin
Homemade Mediterranean Spice Blend Recipe
The ease of making and use of typical Mediterranean spices means that you can make them at home with convenience.
The benefit of making homemade spice blends is that you can adjust the flavors and heat as per your household preference.
So if you prefer a particular herb, spice or heat level then you have the flexibility to use them as per your wishes.