Yesterday, one of my readers asked about the Lebanese 7-spice mixture asking what it was made of and if I had a recipe. I remembered making it one year at WOF but for some reason I couldn’t find the recipe. So, I looked in some of my Lebanese books but I drew a blank. Then, I went online but most recipes included fenugreek which is a definite no no, so, I resorted to calling my mother in Lebanon. I knew she wouldn’t have a recipe – she would have given it to me otherwise for my Lebanese book where I only have a description of the mixture which varies from family to family and from one region to the other; the classic mix is made of ground black and white pepper, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and coriander. However, I also knew that she bought her spices at a great mat’haneh (a place where they grind spices as well as coffee and where they also sell pulses, grains and rice) near my uncle’s home in Achrafiyeh and I asked her to call them for the recipe. And being the best and most beautiful mother, she did. And for you Sam, here is the recipe which is slightly different from the one I describe in my book in that it has ginger!


Lebanese 7-spice mixture

1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground Ginger

Mix all the spices and store in a hermetically sealed container away from both heat and light.

damascus-spice stall copy

Of course if you don’t want to make your own, you can always do like my mother and go to a mat’haneh or to the souk. In Syria, the mixture is slightly different and it can include galangal making it more fragrant. I had a great spice merchant in the souk of Aleppo, al-Hilali, who made the mixture to a recipe given to him by my friend Lena Antaki but sadly, no one is going to Syria these days, not until the monstrous regime falls. When that day comes, I will be one of the first to hop on a plane and go back, both to celebrate the people’s freedom and to help in any way I can.

damascus-spice stall 2 copy

There is 48 comments on this post

  • Truly a million thanks to you and your mother! Im sure you will get alot of interest on this, I understand this is not an exact standard product as it varies somewhat throughout the Levant but I too found fenugreek listed and thought that cannot be ! as well mahlab listed on adibos 7 spices,very strange!,..The recipe your wonderful mom kindly procured sounds like the mix I got from a long lost friend who brought back some from Lebanon, so heady and fragrant on the sweet spices, your original one sounds right too and will make both! and if I may one more question? when is this used vs the allspice,cinnamon ,black pepper trinity?

  • you are welcome sam. as for when to use it, my mother said something v interesting. in the old days, they used to buy a mix which was half allspice and half black pepper and they added whatever other spices they needed: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. it was later that the 7-spice mixture came along commercially. i like to use it often, sometimes in place of allspice, other times alongside it but many people, including my lebanese butcher in london who is sadly gone now, use it sparingly. so, it’s up to you and the recipe you are following. one last word, i think the recipe i give here is a little strong on the nutmeg. the smell is a little too predominant compared to the mix i have from beirut. just play with the proportions until you have a mix you like :)

  • Re Fenugreek: Totally irrelevant, but I was told (by a colleague, fiercely holistic, very British Scotswoman) that fenugreek tea was good for cystitis. I find it quite delicious whenever….

  • Great post and pics as usual.. I once asked my parents about this and they said the same thing, that the all purpose basic spice mix of the region was based on allspice and blackpepper, every family would ask the spice merchant to add whatever else they prefered, but usually cinnamon, a hint of nutmeg and cloves, Palestinians and Jordanians a touch of ground cardamon as well, there are other variations cumin,coriander etc,,And it wasnt till later that you could buy a commerically prepared 7 spice mix off the shelf, I too have tried some brands and they arent that good. It best to mix your own with the freshest spices availble,

  • it’s funny johanna, it’s a flavour i am not v keen on :)

  • you said you are finishing a book and I want to know if you have other books and where to buy it. I´m going to London next week so I could buy it. Do you have some programmed course or event for this month?

  • I do. they are all listed here http://www.anissas.com/books.html and you can buy them on amazon or at books for cooks, 4 Blenheim Crescent London, Greater London W11 1NN, 020 7221 1992 :)

  • Anissa, thank you very much for this recipe! I came a cross a recipe months ago for a kind of pizza dish, that called for Lebanese 7 spice. I have been trying since then to find a commercial blend of 7 spice in stores all across our metro area without any luck. I look forward to trying your recipe because I love playing with spices–I think I already have all the ingredients. Now I have to find where I put the pizza recipe!

  • you are welcome beth and i do hope you find your pizza recipe :)

  • Thanks for sharing this! I brought back a large bag of this when we came home from 7 months in Beirut. (And some za’atar and some saffron.) I use it a lot with my meats. While I have gotten friends to bring some to me, it’s better to have a recipe to make it fresh!

  • Thank you for this recipe! I have searched and searched for exactly what I wanted for the spiced milk to make Shish Taouk. So glad I found this!!!

  • Hurray for your mum s 7 spice mix i had a simple but nice mail today some lentils later added half amount of bulgur (ran out of rice) and salt then caramalized unions at the end and your mum s 7 spice mix instantly lebanese !

  • This is a great post.

    Thank You

  • Interesting mix. I always wanted to know what was in it too. They say they use this in the Doner Kebabs but not sure. Do you know the correct ingredence used in making the doner kababs.

  • how can “fenugreek [be ...] a definite no no” in a “mixture which varies from family to family and from one region to the other”?

  • it’s a question of flavour. fenugreek is not a Lebanese flavour :)

  • What is all spice?
    I find so many different recipes for all spice, Some say it has 3 ingredients, some say 6 ingredients

  • I was planning on cooking a Lebanese meal and one of the dishes called for Lebanese 7-spice. Being Indian in origin I was sure I would have them all in my pantry. I have to say I have never combined these spices in one powder before. Freshly pounded 7-spice – Wow! the aroma of the gravy was amazing! We loved it. Thanks for taking the trouble to find and post this recipe.

  • Why is fenugreek a no-no?

  • it’s not the right flavour :)

  • MMMMMM I can smell it now! Thank you!!! Raised in the northeast part of the USA, of both Southern (Irish/native american/French) and Jewish parents, my sister and I discovered Lebanese food in a mall – and were instantly hooked! Mediterranean foods became my go-to comfort foods. I cannot wait to put a jar of 7-spice together, as I do use all of those flavors in my own cooking. Thank you Thank you Thank you! now to find a decent cup of Turkish coffee and some Baklava…

  • I am staying in Ashrafyeh for 10 days and would like to find the great mat’haneh. Could you tell me how I can find him. I am close to the ABC market.

  • I will have to ask my mother :)

  • Thanks for this!! I’m going to try it with my empanadas arabes that they make in Argentina

  • I only find packaged 7 spices here in the supermarkets.

  • just ask for a mat’haneh near you. mind you some prepacked stuff is very good :)

  • abido is one of the most famous brands :) i buy it in london when i run out of stuff i bring back with me.

  • Would you let me know if this mixture is what is called capsi. If it is not, could you possibly publish the recipe to make capsi
    Thanks a lot.

  • it is not the same as capsi :)

  • Thank you for this. I recently bought the Phaedon Lebanese cookbook and it did not have 7-spice in it! Funny because it’s not something you’ll find in an American grocery store.

    I have been drooling over the recipes since and will definitely check out your blog now that I’ve found you. The flavors really appeal to my pregnant self, and I can’t wait to try a few things out!

    Now to find orange blossom water…

  • This sounds wonderful but other than the rice dish how do you use it?

  • My family recipe (handed down over generations and generations) contains 16 different spices and herbs (i.e. ground basil) (which is never to be given out under any circumstances to anyone outside the family!!) is to die for.
    This recipe is great, as it covers the major spices and the proportions are perfect. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  • Today I bought Lamacun (Lebanese/Armenian Pizza) and got the recipe too!! Yeast dough rolled into 8-9 ” flat circle, covered with a thin layer of raw topping…..hamburger or lamb, chopped tomatoes, 7 spices, and garlic. Spread on raw dough and bake a few minutes…400 F. for 15 min. or so until cooked.

  • Here in the UK Tesco made a wonderful lebanese mix with sumac and pomegranate seeds, mint and parsley too. We used it every night. They just discontinued it!!! I’m going to have to try and replicate it. Help! It has rose petals too… Going to try your basic mix then add on. I wonder if I could find out their supplier? It was delicious and great for a supermarket as I’m REALLY fussy.

  • What type of cinnamon do you use, cassia or Ceylon? Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  • hi please do u have gum arabic at ur stores .. im in zahle where i can find in bekaa ur products .. I need an answer because next week im leaving abroad and need to kate it with me

  • Please help!! My Lebanese mom used to make a spice blend that included a very long list of ingredients. She is from the Tibneen region in south Lebanon. She used this mixture to make kibbee. Some of the ingredients included bulgar, onions, a variety of peppers, rose buds and a very long list of dried spices. She referred to it as “Kamoonah”. All ingredients were blended in a food processor. Do you have any idea what the recipe is?

  • it is a southern lebanese mix for kibbeh frakeh. you will find a recipe for it in my book Levant :)

  • very good

  • Connie Ronanna Deeds
    July 12, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    I am half Syrian. I have 6 sisters. My Syrian Situ &Jito we’re both from Syria. My father was 1 of 10.
    They are all gone now. There are 5 sister left myself included. I stuff grape and cabbage leaves. Zucchini and zucchini and tomatoes and rice dishes. At Easter
    I make kibi. I’m sure my spelling is wrong. On my Syrian words but phonetically correct. We are having
    Company this week. I was going to make chicken and rice with pine nuts. But I just made a big pot that we
    My children, neighbors, my daughters work mate’s
    and many others enjoyed it. But I thought I might
    make the zucchini dish without the rice. I’m
    going to stuffcabbage leaves. And I’m having
    mashed potatoes. So I don t need anymore
    Rice and if I have left over I can add the rice,
    Thanks for the recipe. Connie

  • I would like to know the correct Lebanese word for the 7 spice mix. Also have you ever tried cardamom in it? I see many recipes with it included. And in making Kibbeh do you add cayenne pepper and marjoram? I don’t remember those two from long time ago living with the Lebanese community in Haiti.

  • it’s called sabe’ b’harata or ??? ??????. some people put cardamom in it but I don’t. and no marjoram or cayenne pepper in my kibbeh but why not although the marjoram would be quite strong :)

  • Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s perfect. The scent reminds me as a young child being at my Grandmother’s side in the kitchen while she made Kibbeh or stuffed cabbage rolls. The aromas of lamb and spice are intoxicating and remind me of a much simpler time.

  • Hi Anissa. My grandparents on my father’s side immigrated to the United States from Hadden El Jebbe in Lebanon. I have a daughter whose middle name is Anissa. I am going to try your spice recipe for my kibbe, warra enib, kousa, and lubia. Would you know if the recipe from where my grandfather came is any different from yours? I understand you have a book for sale. What type of foods, and how may I procure it? You can email your answers to me at the email address I provided. Thank you.

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