Much like garam masala is to Indian food and berbere is to Ethiopian food, baharat is a popular Middle Eastern spice blend that can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
Baharat means “spices” in Arabic, and refers to the combination of warm, earthy spices used in the blend. There isn’t a set recipe for baharat; it differs from household to household and brand to brand!
What it is: A spice blend that's popular in Middle Eastern cooking
Ingredients: Baharat blends vary but may contain cinnamon, clove, allspice, cumin, coriander, sumac, saffron, cardamom, and pepper
Substitutes: Ras el hanout, which contains some of the same spices (cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and black pepper) as baharat
What is Baharat?
Baharat is a spice that earns its everyday reliability as it works in both sweet and savory dishes, providing a balance of earthy and warm tones as a base. As Adeena Sussman writes in her cookbook “Sababa,” baharat is made of many warming baking spices—think cinnamon, clove and allspice—and balanced with earthy black pepper and cardamon.
Baharat blends vary, which means you may also find baharat made with cumin, coriander, sumac, saffron, and even rose petals, depending on the region.
You’ll find baharat in Middle Eastern cuisines from Turkey to Israel, and it’s meant to be a versatile, everyday combination that can be used on a variety of dishes, a go-to blend for seasoning meats, stews, eggs and so on.
Where to Buy
You can easily find baharat online at various sources, such as La Boite, Spice House, or at specialty grocery stores. You can make your own spice blend by lightly toasting the whole spices, then grinding them to make your own.
Look for baharat at Middle Eastern grocers or spice shops or purchase online at some of these distributors. Each lists its combination of spices, so read closely to make sure that you enjoy every ingredient in there.
How to Store
Store baharat in an air-tight container, and keep it in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight or any heat sources. If it’s something you are using as an everyday spice, then consider placing it on the counter so that you have easy access to it.
If you’re making your own spice blend, then make sure to label it with the date made. Spices don’t technically expire, but they do lose their potency, which is why dates are helpful.
If you don't have baharat on hand, you can try substituting ras el hanout, which contains some of the same spices (cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and black pepper) as baharat.
How to Use Baharat
After seasoning lamb, beef, roast chicken or seafood with salt, combine baharat with a bit of oil and use that as a rub for a quick dinner. You can also add baharat to kofte, hamburgers, or mix it in with ground meat. Try using baharat in flatbread or other bread recipes.
To really bring out the flavor of the spice blend, heat it with a little oil, ghee, or butter until you smell the fragrance of the spices to create a flavorful base for whatever you’re cooking: add it to a pan with onions before you cook them, or add a 1/2 teaspoon, or more to taste, to sauce or slow-cooked lentils. It’s wonderful mixed with carrots or potatoes before roasting, and even better sprinkled over eggs!