Syrian spice, Syrian allspice, Arabic spice, baharat: what's in a name? The basic ingredients in the Syrian version of this popular North African spice blend -- black peppercorns, allspice berries, cinnamon and nutmeg -- can be enhanced with a bit of sumac, cumin, cardamom, cassia or cinnamon, paprika, cloves, rose petals, dried lime, saffron or mint. A rich and peppery (spicy, not hot) mix, Syrian spice makes a delicious rub for grilled chicken, or the base of a flavorful dip for roasted vegetables. My local Middle Eastern market blends its own, letting the pungent, complex flavor of allspice take center stage. I love it.
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Where to buy online (be sure to check ingredients; each blend is different):
Arabic baharat (World Spice Merchants), $1.75/oz
Egyptian spice mix (Zamouri Spices), $4.95 for 1.7 oz
Baharat (My Spice Sage), $2.25/oz
Chicken shish kabob
A slight variation on our favorite shish taouk, this chicken is cooked off skewers, on the grill, and makes a perfect filling for pitas or a topping for rice or couscous. Serves 6.
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-4 cloves garlic, sliced, plus 4 cloves mashed (or from a jar)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Few grinds of fresh nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp Syrian spice/baharat
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well (with your hands). Marinate, covered or in a ziploc bag, in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours, or overnight.
Heat grill to high. Place chicken on a barbecue grid, and cook over direct heat for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently. (Can also be made under the broiler.)
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