The word baharat is thought to come from the Arabic word that means spice. Baharat seasoning is thought to have originated in North Africa; however it is most widely used in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Like all traditional spice blends, there are certain core ingredients that comprise the backbone of the mix as well as a wide variety of local variations. For instance, the Turkish and Arabic version of the recipe is largely the same but the Turkish version typically contains mint.
Flavor profile of baharat
The standard spices in baharat are:
Most blends will have most of these spices, but some may be missing depending on the local variation. For example, you may see sumac and turmeric in some local blends. In most cases, the spices come together to create a warm and aromatic mixture with strong earthy and smoky notes. It is not spicy at all and can work with a wide variety of dishes.
Health benefits of baharat seasoning
Baharat offers a significant range of health benefits from the spices it contains. Each of the spices offers many different health-boosting compounds including:
- Piperine: This alkaloid is contained in black pepper and is what makes it spicy and pungent. Other essential oils in baharat include linalool from the cardamom and ethyl cinnamate from the cinnamon.
- Vitamins: Cinnamon and black pepper are good sources of Vitamin A along with niacin, a B-complex vitamin. Cloves provide ample amounts of vitamin K along with vitamin C an riboflavin.
- Minerals: Cardamom and black pepper are excellent sources of a range of minerals including iron, manganese and potassium. Cloves contain the above minerals along with selenium and magnesium.
- Cumin is an excellent source of dietary fiber and contain other compounds beneficial for gut health.
By using baharat, you may get health benefit such as:
- Improved digestion: Spices in baharat like cloves and cumin can help with digestion and gastrointestinal health. Black pepper also contains compounds that are known to improve digestion.
- Improved blood pressure: Baharat’s component spices are known improve blood pressure thus reducing the risk of strokes and other diseases.
- Improved vision: The vitamin A in baharat is important for good vision and for the prevention of eye problems like macular degeneration and cataracts.
Common uses of baharat
Traditionally, baharat is used for seasoning meats such as lamb or chicken but it can also be used on fish. It is considered the perfect all-purpose spice that can be thrown into almost any savory dish as a way to enhance the flavor. Think of it as the Middle Eastern version of salt and pepper in that it is considered a staple. In order to better understand its versatility, consider the fact that baharat is also used to season rice dishes including pilaf and biryani as well as for seasoning meats.
It is also used to flavor grilles meats in much the same way that barbecue rubs are used in the west. Because most of the spices in the mix are popular around the world, baharat can be used in many western dishes as well. You can use it for stir-frying meat and vegetables as well as for adding flavor to your soups and marinades. Consider frying the spice mix in oil to release the flavors and then using the oil to baste meat or vegetables on the grill.