29
May

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

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!

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

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 14 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.

Leave a Comment