Baharat! Ba-ha-what?

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

On our latest Facebook and Instagram Live this was a question we were asked as Eliah listed his ingredients for Turkish Inspired Meatballs. Baharat--which is actually quite fun to say-- rolls off the tongue once you learn how to pronounce it.





We were first introduced to Baharat by AJ, a customer who came into SpiceTopia with his personal recipe to be blended. After blending it for him, Eliah tried it and fell in love with this distinct spice blend! He tweaked the recipe just a bit to make it our own, and we are now happy to offer it as one of our regular organic blends.


In Arabic, baharat simply means spice. It is believed baharat originated in North Africa, but today it has spread across the Middle Eastern world. Like so many spice blends, baharat has foundational spices that are then varied region to region or even household to household. These foundational spices usually include black pepper, cloves, cumin, paprika, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom.


Our version, based on AJ’s recipe, switches up paprika for a smoked version and adds rose petals, turmeric, and allspice to the core spices. Traditionally, this unique blend is used as an all-purpose spice for many different savory dishes. It is a wonderful seasoning for meats and fish, just as Eliah’s done with the following meatball recipe. It also forms the flavor basis for rice dishes such as pilafs and biryani.


Because it has so many flavors familiar to Western palettes, we feel it can be successfully used to change up the flavor of everyday American foods such as chili, roasted vegetables, and even pasta dishes. Hmmm, … perhaps baharat macaroni and cheese might be the next thing we try?


Eliah’s Turkish inspired Meatball recipe is the epitome of comfort food. The meatballs, full of flavor on their own, are roasted in a spiced tomato sauce. The meatballs take on the flavor of the sauce and the sauce just becomes richer and richer as the meatballs release their juices during the time they meld together in the oven.


We like to serve these succulent meatballs over couscous (which if you’ve never made--just requires the ability and time to boil water!) or rice, so you don’t miss any of the delicious sauce. A dollop of plain yogurt adds a sour note to counteract the richness of this dish and finishes the dish off perfectly!


Turkish Inspired Meatballs


Ingredients:


1 Red Onion, chopped finely

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided

4 teaspoon Baharat

2 garlic cloves

½ teaspoon Cinnamon

Handful of fresh mint or parsley, leaves and stalks chopped separately

2 teaspoons Pacific Sea Salt

2 lbs of ground lamb or beef

20 oz crushed tomatoes

10 oz chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon Harissa Spice Blend

Steamed rice or couscous

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Create Harissa paste by combining 1 tablespoon of Harissa with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

In an oven safe skillet or pan using the remaining olive oil, saute the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the baharat and garlic and continue sauteing for an additional 2 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Divide the onion mixture into half and put into two bowls.

Into one bowl of onions, add the cinnamon, chopped mint or parsley stalks and lamb. Season with salt. Using your hands, mix together. Divide into 12 balls.

In the same skillet the onions were cooked in, brown the meatballs for 5-6 minutes turning as needed. The meatballs will not be all the way cooked at this point. That's okay.

Remove the meatballs to a plate.

Drain fat if you have more than a teaspoon or so left in the pan.

In same oven safe pan, add back in remaining onion mixture, crushed tomato, stock, and harissa paste. Stir together and taste for salt. You may need to add a bit more depending on the salt level ofb your crushed tomatoes. Heat until just bubbling.

Add meatballs back into the pan along with any juices that may have accumulated on the plate. Stir to coat.

Cover and transfer to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the lid (or foil) from the pan and bake for another 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Serve over couscous or rice. Garnish with the chopped parsley or mint leaves.



Have you used baharat? What do you like it on?



Sources for information on Baharat include:

https://www.arabamerica.com/baharat-7-spice-ingredient-giving-arab-food-distinct-flavor/

And of course, AJ!

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