Ras El Hanout Spiced Lamb Mince

If you’ve got your hands on a tin of Rooted Spice’s Ras El Hanout and you’re wondering where to begin, then I urge you to start with some spiced lamb mince.

In my humble opinion, when cooking with lamb mince (unless it’s for a shepherd’s pie), spices make a great addition. Lamb mince has a bold flavour which makes it a brilliant vehicle for spices. Also, lamb mince is a popular choice in Middle Eastern cuisine (pork is banned in Islam), so a whack of fragrant and aromatic Ras El Hanout (which means ‘top of the shop’ in Arabic) feels like a natural addition.

Once you’ve made a batch of spiced mince, then the options are endless. There’s rarely a ‘plain carb’ in Middle Eastern cookery – everything is ‘jewelled’, spiced and laden with fresh herbs. So one option is to get creative with a traditional bulgur wheat tabbouleh or Persian jewelled rice.

This recipe is, however, inspired by a glut of courgette. Traditionally, a Provençale courgette is stuffed with a drier rice-breadcrumb mixture, but I think that the flavours here are so beautiful – and when served with a mound of hot flatbread to mop up the spiced sauce, it’s an utter delight.

In keeping with the Middle Eastern tradition of ‘jeweling’ dishes with pops of colour and flavour, I recommend going big on garnishes.  Forget the brown-beige British aesthetics surrounding ‘mince’ and instead heap on toppings: crumbled feta cheese, fresh mint, pops of toasted pinenuts and a dash of crimson-sharp sumac.


1-2tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions (or 1 big one)
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1tbsp ras el hanout
1 pinch of cayenne pepper (1/2-1tsp, dependent on what kind of heat you like)
400g lamb mince
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1tbsp tomato paste
75g raisins

To garnish:
Feta cheese, crumbled
Pine nuts, toasted
Fresh mint, finely sliced
Flat leaf parsley, finely sliced
2tsp sumac
Assorted courgettes


Heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a pan and cook the red onions until softened and just starting to take on some colour. Add the garlic and then stir in the ras el hanout and cayenne pepper, so the spices coat the onions and become fragrant. Tip the ras el hanout-spiced onions and garlic into a bowl and set aside.

Add 1tbsp of oil to the same pan you cooked the onions in. Brown the lamb in batches and then return the spiced onions to the pan. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and raisins and bring to a simmer.

Bring to a rolling simmer. Put the lid on and cook for 1.5 hours – either on a low hob (stirring from time to time) or in the oven (round 120-140C).

If you’re planning to stuff a courgette: preheat the oven to 200C.
Cut the top off round courgettes and scoop out the seeded centre, or slice long courgettes in half, lengthways. Season with oil and salt and roast for 25-35 minutes, until soft.

When it comes to serve, stuff the courgettes with the spiced lamb mince. Pile the garnishes high, scattering them all over. Either serve with a bulgur wheat tabbouleh, couscous or piles of hot flatbread and hummous.

spices used

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