Baharat: Middle Eastern Spice Blend
Baharat is an aromatic Middle Eastern spice blend that is warm, sweet and smoky, made from a mixture of finely ground chili peppers, peppercorns, cardamom, ginger, turmeric and more. Learn more about it below.
What is Baharat Made Of?
Baharat is a warm, sweet and smoky spice blend native to the middle-eastern and southern Europe, (namely Turkey and Greece). It is a mixture of roasted and finely ground chili peppers, black peppercorns, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, coriander, nutmeg, cumin, cloves, saffron, Carissa bark and all-spice. It is a kitchen staple in the regions’ cuisines, particularly middle eastern cuisine.
However, the components may vary according to region, as in Turkey’s variant where the most significant ingredient in the Baharat blend is mint.
Additionally, in the Persian Gulf, it is often a simple spice mixture of dried rosebuds, cinnamon, black pepper, saffron and dried black lime (loomi). In layman’s terms, Baharat is the middle-eastern variant of the Indian subcontinent’s infamous spice; Garam Masala.
What can I Substitute for Baharat?
If you are unable to find the spice, Baharat spice can be substituted with other local varieties and options such as Ras el hanout, which more often than not, depending on how its made, has the similar basic elements as that of Baharat. Like Baharat, it does not have to be the primary seasoning but an additive which gives it the rich, earthy and warm flavor native to middle-eastern countries.
Some sources also mention how the use of Garam Masala, albeit in an absolute pinch, might also do the job as it also has the same blend of composite elements, being just a bit hotter than Baharat.
Additionally, some sources suggest madras curry powder, even though this particular spice does not originate from the middle-eastern or southern Europe. It does have a rather similar flavor profile.
Nonetheless, using a simple blend of equal ratios taking cinnamon, cumin, paprika, and ground cumin can also work granted the correct proportions are taken. All of these are good improvisational techniques.
What is Baharat Used For?
Baharat, needless to say, is quite a versatile spice mix. It can be used as a dry rub on the meat cuts of lamb, mutton, beef, and poultry respectively. It is also heavily used as the elemental seasoning in soups and stews, giving it that very ethnic sense of culture that relates to food. However, it is also worth mentioning that that is not exclusive to only meat, as it also serves well to complement seafood and vegetables as flavorings in salads, vegetable stews, and more.
Another popular use for this is in the local staple delicacies of pilaf dishes which are rice-based and other dishes that comprise of lentils and similar legumes. Even so, as it gains popularity, its use in the West also expands as many burger joints now use this as a seasoning in their hamburgers and lamb chops.
For recipes using ground beef, mix the baharat mixture into the meat before cooking, typically about 1 teaspoon for every pound of ground beef. While the flavor isn’t overwhelming, it is very strongly fragrant, which is why it is safe and good to use such a small, proportionate amount. As Baharat is already a mixture of various spices, most of the work is already done and thus a lot of time is saved, be it in the use of a paste, marinade or ground dry mix.
Where Can I Buy Baharat?
Baharat is nowadays easily available in markets, local ethnic delis and even online. Making your own personalized blend isn’t that big of a hassle, as the benefits in flavor it reaps are worthwhile. Just be sure to keep it stored in an airtight container.
- Buy Baharat (Amazon affiliate link, my friends!)
Learn More About These Other Interesting Spice Blends
- Garam Masala
- Togarashi: Popular Japanese Spice Blend
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Akabanga – Rwandan Chili Oil
- Chili Pastes from Around the World
- Homemade Spice Blend Recipes
Questions? Feel free to contact me anytime. I’m happy to help. — Mike H.