I am nothing if not dying to be au courant, ha ha ha. Actually, ras el hanout came into my life thank to that child molestor and tv "chef", Jeff Smith. He did a series of shows about world food, and the middle school me fell in love with Moroccan food. Even in the pre-internet world, I found a variety of sources about Moroccan food. And, then I started cooking, making preserved lemons and trying to fashion my own ras el hanout. Mind you, all the while, having never tasted actual Moroccan food. Now, much later, I have eaten Moroccan at restaurants in the US and France and I have made many more attempts at ras el hanout.
It is cool stuff these days; I keep seeing it in magazines and hearing about it on Top Chef. But, what I love about it is the fact that there is no right answer. It is the Moroccan equivalent of curry powder--a combination of spices that vary according family/store and region. For ras el hanout, expect cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric, dried rosebud, and then up to 81 more spices and herbs. The resulting mix, with its rich complexity, is deserving of its more recent fame.
It is lovely on thickly cut roasted sweet potatoes and served alongside yogurt dip. This snack is satisfying and my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging started by Kalyn and run this week by Wandering Chopsticks.
NB: Do you prefer the first photograph, in which the sweet potatoes look as if they have been banished from their brotheren, or the second, in which the sweet potatoes look as if they are being served up at high noon in the desert?