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, 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.
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.