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North African Cooking: Spice Pantry Essentials

North African Spices

Spices help you expand your palate and let you explore new cuisines and cultures from the comfort of your own kitchen. Take your tastebuds across the world, and try your hand at North African cooking—a unique fare of flavorful, exotic dishes that hail from Morocco, Alergia, Tunisia and Libya. The robust flavors of this region rely on staple ingredients to bring everything from couscous to Tagines to life. Stock up your pantry with these vibrant spices and blends so you can recreate classic North African meals whenever your heart desires.

Ras el Hanout

Ras el Hanout spice blend in a bowl.A common seasoning used in Moroccan cooking, Ras el Hanout is rich, aromatic and pungent. Arabic for “top of the shop” (a.k.a. top shelf), it’s made of the best spices in the house, such as Tellicherry black pepper, cardamom, Spanish saffron, turmeric, mace, and cinnamon. Toss it in couscous, use it as a seasoning in tagine or as a spice rub for roasted chicken.

Vegetable Tagine Recipe


Harissa spice paste poured into a bowl from a jar.This hot chile pepper paste is the fiery condiment you need to try. Considered the sriracha of Tunisia, Harissa is North Africa’s favorite hot sauce. Harissa is traditionally made of dried chile peppers, fresh garlic cloves, olive oil and spices like whole coriander, whole cumin, and caraway seeds. Everything is pureed together to deliver a complex burst of heat and earthiness to any dish.

Make your own Harissa from scratch, or buy a jar pre-made, like New York Shuk’s premium Harissa paste that’s by far the most complex we’ve tried yet. A spoonful can transform soups, salad dressings and dips, or be combined with freshly squeezed lemon juice to use as a baste on grilled fish.

Homemade Harissa Recipe

Marrakesh Market Blend

Marrakesh Moroccan spice blend in a bowl.If you’re looking to explore Moroccan cuisine, you’ll want to add our one-of-a-kind Marrakesh Market Blend to your pantry. This spice mixture is a subtle balance of exotic sweet spices and savory herbs, such as paprika, cumin, coriander, hot curry powder, cardamom, cinnamon and parsley. Sprinkle it on vegetables before roasting, or use it in rice pilaf, couscous or grilled chicken.

Marrakesh Roasted Vegetables Recipe

Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemon in a jar.Preserved lemons are a North African pantry staple. This moroccan delicacy is essentially lemons pickled in salt water and extra lemon juice, allowing you to store and eat them past their season. Mildly tart and intensely lemony, these salt-cured lemons add a heavy umami flavor to soups and rice dishes, or can be pureed with chickpeas, tahini and fresh garlic for a delicious lemon hummus. We offer both whole preserved lemons and an easy to use preserved lemon puree.

Slow-Cooked Moroccan Chicken Recipe

If you have a favorite North African spice, spice blend, or recipe, tell us about it in the comments below. You can also email us anytime at


Article by Vanessa Paparella, Staff Writer




vince on February 20th, 2020

Only think missing from this page is “Add all to cart” button!

Jacquelyn Bolden on February 20th, 2020

These are all wonderful spices for creating dishes from North Africa, Egypt,Morocco, Marrakech etc. Cooking the low, slow method (if no tangine) with vegetables or meat (lamb, chicken, beef) yield unforgettable flavors!

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