When I was in high school, I tasted and learned this spice combination (known as Baharat), is quite common in Iraq. In fact it is used by other cultures in that part of the world as well. From my reading it would appear that this spice mixture varies somewhat from country to country, and even from kitchen to kitchen. Not surprising really. The mixture sometimes includes dried mint and hot red chili pepper. My husband is particularly fond of dishes made with this spice.
My father, career Air Force, did a tour of duty in Iran in 1958-60 (I was age 10). He was asked years later in Kansas to sponsor a visiting Iraqi officer stationed temporarily there. Sponsoring a newcomer in the military means to help them feel welcome to the base/post, the city, the country, and our American culture and to help them get oriented to their life in the States. Dad’s commanding officer felt my Dad particularly suited for this sponsorship given our prior experiences in Iran.
To make a long story short, This Iraqi office dined in our home several times and before he went back home to Iraq, he insisted my mother allow him to cook us a traditional Iraqi dinner. Let me just say it was good beyond words! He was quite impressed my mother had Iranian rice on hand (200 lb. of which we had shipped back home with us when we left Iran, it’s THAT good!). He was blown away that she also knew how to prepare it traditionally, to create that wonderful nutty-tasting, crusty browned layer at the bottom of the rice pot that is so prized at the Middle Eastern dinner table.
He was also impressed Mom had all the spices he required. Being an addicted recipe collector, she wrote down every little thing he was throwing into the big chicken pan. I recently came across his chicken recipe while browsing through my mother’s oldest recipes and copied down the ingredients for this posting. I had completely forgotten about this spice combination and flavor from my past!
The predominant flavors of this blend are cloves and cinnamon. But the subtle mixture of ALL the ingredients is truly delightful! This is also good for other beef and even lamb creations.
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2 T. black peppercorns
1 whole nutmeg, grated
1 tsp. turmeric
2 T. paprika
1 T. cumin seed
1 T. coriander seed
1 stick cinnamon, 3″ long (yields 1 tsp. ground)
1 tsp. cloves, whole (or allspice)
1 tsp. cardamom seed (Removed from outer husk/pod coating
DIRECTIONS: Break up the cinnamon stick a bit and place in spice grinder. Grind until quite powdery. Add all other spices and grind as fine as possible. Depending on the size of your grinder, you may have to grind these in batches and then stir up in a bowl. Place spice blend in an air tight jar and store in dark cupboard.
NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes about 1/2 cup (8 T.) of spice mixture. Each tsp. contains:
6 calories, .26 g fat, 1.25 g carbs, .60 g fiber, .65 g NET CARBS, .24 g protein, 0 mg sodium