Emirati Recipe: Mixed Local Spices – Bezar

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Bezar is the “very essence of Arabian cooking and is a mixture of spices first roasted then pounded together. ”

The quotation and recipe is from Celia Ann Brock-Al Ansari’s “The Complete UAE Cookbook”:


1 cup cumin seeds (whole)
1 cup fennel seeds (whole)
1 cup cinnamon sticks
1 cup coriander seeds (whole)
1/2 cup peppercorns (whole)
1/4 cup dried red chillies (whole)
1/2 cup turmeric powder


Put cumin, fennel, cinnamon, coriander, peppercorns and dried chillies into a frying pan and roast over a low heat, stirring continuously, until the spices turn golden. Remove from heat, grind in a blender and keep in an air tight container.

Once the bezar has been prepared, it can be kept in an airtight container and will remain fresh for up to 10 months.

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I haven’t tried making my own bezar yet as I have been afraid that I might get all the proportions wrong, being a first timer and all with Emirati cooking.

So I bought my bags of bezar (pictured above) from the grocery stores in Dubai. I have seen it sold in Carrefour, Lulu’s, and Geant.

It is labeled “Arabic Mix Masala” and comes in a two different varieties: the green package is supposed to be mild flavored (Bedouin style); and the red package is regular flavored (Coastal Urban style). At least that’s what was translated for me from the description on the back of the packaging.

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Note: This post is part of my Cooking Local project

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  1. Greatly enjoyed your posting this morning about the invitation to an Emerati home – looked like a lovely occasion!

    I've been looking for Celia Anne Brock's book for a long time; is it actually in print anywhere – apart from on Fahed's website?

    1. Hi Diana,

      Thanks for leaving a comment and glad that you enjoyed the post – there was so much to share it took me awhile to get it all written down!

      I haven't seen copies of Celia's book for sale anywhere in Dubai but I did happen upon one copy at the library that is above Mall of the Emirates. I read somewhere that someone found a copy at a used book store in Satwa but I've never made the trip yet.

  2. Thanks for this! I made this bezar. You might be wise to have bought it at the store. It took like 45 minutes to toast, and then when I tried to blend it the cinnamon sticks very nearly broke my food processor…