Middle Eastern Spice Blends (Baharat)

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Left to Right, Top to Bottom:  Bay Leaves, Whole Black Peppercorns, Ground Red Pepper (Cayenne), Dried Ginger, Dried Ground Coriander, Whole Cloves, Cinnamon Sticks, Dried Limes, Saffron, Whole Green Cardamom Pods, Dried Ground Cumin, and Whole Nutmeg.

Photo (taken by yours truly) of Kebseh Spice Mix from my cookbook, An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair.

When you think of the Middle East, exotic flavors and spices are probably high on the list of images that are conjured up. The intoxicating spicy smell of walking through an old market, sampling both sweet treats (like ma’amoul) and savory dishes (like shawarma) that are characterized by the perfect blend of alluring spices. Even enjoying a fresh pot of Turkish coffee you’ll get your fill of spice, in the form of cardamom.

Clockwise from 1 o’clock:  Whole Sour Black Cherry Pits (Mahlab), Ground Sour Black Cherry Pits, Saffron, Nigella Seeds, Sumac, and Cardamom.

For those of you who are thinking right now that you don’t like spicy foods, not to fear. While Middle Eastern cuisine uses a lot of spice, in general, most dishes aren’t full of heat. They’re just full of flavor, perfectly balanced.

If you have trouble finding good spice mixes in your area, you are in for a real treat. In my cookbook, I share the recipe for several Middle Eastern spice blends.

Za’atar, a spice mix with thyme as its main component, is often eaten for breakfast with olive oil and flatbread; it’s said that the herbs in this mix help improve memory and concentration.

I included well-known blends like Za’atar (Thyme Spice Mix) and 7-Spice Mix, but also a few lesser known blends like Cake Spice Mix (which is used in Ma’amoul), Mendy Spice Mix, and Kebseh Spice Mix. Head over to MidEATS for recipes for a few spice blends from my book…and be sure to enter the cookbook giveaway!

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13 comments to Middle Eastern Spice Blends (Baharat)

  • Hi Faith,

    I have been meaning to ask you about Baharat. Last year I bought a bag of what was labeled as Baharat Spice from a Turkish store. It didn’t specify what spices where used in it. Anyways, so Baharat just means spice mix? The one I had tasted most like the ingredients in your Syrian or Four Spice mixes.

    • Nancy, Yes, Baharat is the general term for a spice mix. I’ve never tried a Turkish mix, but that’s very interesting that it’s similar to a Syrian or Four Spice Mix! I will definitely look out for it.

  • Za’atar is so tasty. Perfect with olive oil and bread.



  • Savory breakfast of olive oil and bread and spices sounds so good. Faith, again, lovely pictures and thank you for this middle eastern education.

  • What a great resource for Middle Eastern cooking!

  • Deb

    I couldn’t hold off any longer – had to buy your book! I’m vegetarian but you have many vegetarian choices and am very excited about the spice blends.

  • Eha

    Alright, I hang my head in shame ’cause I use Baharat and Za’atar all the time, and I buy them [admittedly from very good suppliers] ready mixed!! What a wonderful lesson!! OK, OK, I’m on my bended knees to Lorraine for a Xmas gift for your book – so is half the world, methinks! To begin with, I never knew what mahlab meant :) !

  • I’ve never been to Middle East but I’ve been to Morocco and I still remember the smell of the spices in the souks! Being a mediterranean inhabitant I love all these spices and many of them I use them in my everyday cooking!

  • I’m so excited about my delivery of Baharat! It’s one of those things that you always want to have in your pantry! :D

  • Camille

    Hi Faith,
    I’m trying to find a mid-eastern cookie recipe that my mother-in law used to make. She was from Damaskas,Syria.
    Everyone refered to the cookie as the “poopie cookie.” I believe the name of it is Kaak, pronounced gok.
    Can you help me obtain this recipe? I know its rolled and shaped like spiral circles. I appreciate you taking time to read this,and help if possible!

  • Jennifer

    Hi Faith, i absolutely love your book, use it all the time! it’s my favorite :) But I had a question about preparing the Mendy Spice Mix in your book, if i wanted to use ground spices instead of whole spices, what would that measure out to? I was wanting to make the spice mix for the chicken recipe on page 94, but wasn’t sure how to prepare it when all i need is a tablespoon of the mix? And i’m assuming i would still need to put 3 bay leaves, 3 cinnamon sticks, 3 dried limes and a piece of ginger to that mix? or do i need less of these ingredients? Thank you!

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Hello! I’m Faith and I write An Edible Mosaic. This is my recipe collection of international favorites and updated American classics, with an emphasis on seasonal dishes. I focus on real foods that sustain body and mind, bring people together, and make a house a home. Welcome to my mosaic of recipes.

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