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.Β 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, and cheap drugs, 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 75 comments on this post

  • the mixtures vary so if your grandma used both cumin and coriander, adapt my recipe and add both πŸ™‚

  • I have had your Mediterranean street food book for a good 10 years now and had never tried the lamb shawarma. I decided to look up 7 spice mix and look where I landed! It was meant to be! Thank you so much for your beautiful way with food and beauty and culture. I will be cooking it tomorrow night but the spice mix smells heavenly tonight! Simply transports me from my urban Canadian setting to an exotic locale.

  • how interesting. Enjoy your shawarma with your own spice blend πŸ™‚

  • Soo very helpful, can’t find it here , it’s 300miles away the nearest location , thanks again πŸ™‚

  • 7-spices mixtures vary from country to country and from cuisine to cuisine.The more famous ones are the Lebanese 7-spices, the Iraqi 7-spices, the Palestinian 7-spices, the Aleppine and the Damascene 7-spices.
    Ginger in the above recipe must be an individual effort to produce a tasty spice mixture as ginger is rarely used in traditional Lebanese cuisine and until fairly recently was a relatively unknown spice in Lebanon.
    The traditional seven spices in the Lebanese mixture are:
    Black pepper, Cinnamon, Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom, Cloves, and Nutmeg.
    The ratio is one measure of the first 5 spices and 1/2 measure of the last 2.
    Lebanese housewives and cooks rarely grind or mix their own as 7-spices is readily available everywhere.

  • Hi, is there any vegetarian use for this blend? I’ll be making a Lebanese lunch tomorrow for my friend’s birthday. It will be: mjaddara, batata harra, pita, manaqish with zaatar, falefel, lebneh, baba ghanuj, hummus, tabbule, qatayif, sfouf.
    Can I put some 7-spice in the falefel, or in the mjaddara, or it’s a heresy? Thanks.

  • I actually put a little 7-spice mixture in my tabbouleh and in mjaddara and there is no reason not to use it in falafel even if it is not in the recipe but don’t overdo it πŸ™‚

  • Sergio-
    You can use it in maghmour, it’s a kind of chickpea aubergine moissaka.

  • Hello there,
    I thought you also need to add Cardamon to 7 spices.Please let me know.
    Thank You

  • we don’t but there is no reason why you can’t do it to suit your taste πŸ™‚

  • I am grateful for your blog and authentic recipes. After moving to a small Texas town, I have been trying to recreate in my kitchen the wonderful Lebanese dishes I used to enjoy in Houston’s many wonderful Lebanese restaurants and stores. So helpful to learn the proper combination of spices, particularly the 7-spice, which is a favorite. It will be a joy to explore your site and learn even more about this wonderful cuisine. Thank you!!!

  • delighted to know you are enjoying it πŸ™‚

  • Marhaba Assina,
    My mother still prepares the mouneh at home,
    in her Lebanese Seven Spice Mix she adds dried rose petals (Wared Joureh) it gives a nice flavour to the spices. She dried her spices in the sun for couple of days before she
    pound them. This is the way i learned how to prepare them.

  • Dear Anissa,

    How long do 7 spices keep in a ziploc bag?

    Thank you!

  • if you keep it in the freezer a long time, if not hermetically sealed glass jar kept in cool place, one year more or less πŸ™‚

  • Different variations have different names. For example: japanese 7 spice is called togarashi. What are the names of the Lebanese & Moroccan variations?

  • there is no moroccan variation but there is ras el-hanout which is a lot more than 7 spices and the lebanese one is sabe’ bharat meaning 7 spices

  • Hi Anissa,

    I came across your blog and found it very informative and interesting.

    How long do 7 spices keep? I made some 2 years ago and stored in a ziploc bag. I wonder if I can still use it.

    Thank you!

  • It is not ideal to store in a ziploc bag for so long unless you put it in the freezer πŸ™‚ otherwise glass jar, and not longer than a year.

  • Be sure not to confuse asian 5 and 7 spice mixtures as they are very different than the mid-eastern ones, which can include, as mentioned ginger, or galangal as well as fennel or star anise.

    Then there is Jordanian 7 spice which we found to include fenugreek !

    Wow! Maybe we need to come up with a new naming convention just like mid-eastern musical scales have names like Rast and Hijaz rather than musical notes.

  • Hi. I was wondering what recipes use Ziyad brand 7 spice blend. I just purchased some toda.

  • you will find plenty in my lebanese cookbook and a few here such as tabbouleh

  • Just a word of thanks for the recipe I was going to purchase some from Amazon, but of course prefer making things myself, even spice blends. Will try this over the weekend with some kabobs. Looking forward to it. Thank you for sharingπŸ™πŸΎ

  • Hi Anissa,
    Why no fenugreek?

  • Lebanese people don’t really use fenugreek

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