Ethiopian Berbere Spice Blend

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Berbere Spice Blend

This quintessentially Ethiopian chilli-based spice blend is readily available from mainstream supermarket chains. For a more authentic product the universal rule applies: if you want it done “properly” do it yourself. Every cook has their own version. The recipe given contains the most commonly used and readily available spices. Lesser known  spices include nigella (black onion) seeds, ajwain, and korarima, a spice that grows wild in Ethiopia.

Make a simple dry spice powder which will keep in a sealed jar for many months, or go one step further and prepare a tempered berbere paste ready to add to dishes at any stage.

Use in: wots (stews), dry rubs, lentil soups, roasted vegetables, dipsIngredients

  • 3-4 tbsp mild-to-medium-hot chilli powder or flakes
    • Unsmoked paprika plus a teaspoon of chilli powder is a good way to control the heat. Otherwise try
    • New Mexico chillies
    • Turkish chilli flakes (eg aci pul biber)
    • Mexican Guajillo
    • Kashmiri chilli
  • 1 tsp
    • Salt
    • Ground ginger
    • Coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp
    • Fenugreek seeds
    • Green cardammon seeds
  • ¼ tsp
    • Grated nutmeg
    • Ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp
    • cloves
    • ground cinnamon
    • allspice berrie

1: Berbere Powder

Put the whole spices on a dry pan and toast until they release their flavour but maintain their colour

Cool the spices and grind by hand in a stone mortar and pestle or electric coffee grinder

Mix with the powdered spices and store in an airtight jar

2: Berbere Paste

Here the spices are already tempered and can be added later in the cooking process to produce a fresher aromatic top note.

Finely chop a medium-sized onion and a couple of garlic cloves and soften them in a little olive or other oil for about 15 minutes

Add all the pre-ground spices, mixing them well into the oil. Add half a wine-glass full of water, wine (red or white) or a mix of the two. Cook very gently for 20 minutes to obtain a firm paste.

When cool, store in a jar covered with half an inch of olive oil. The paste will keep 3-4 weeks in the fridge. Replace the top oil as needed every time you use it.





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