How to Make an Ethiopian Berbere Spice Mix

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Start to Finish: 10 minutes
Servings: Makes about 3/4 cup

Difficulty Level: Easy

Berbere is an essential seasoning for Ethiopian food. It consists of a blend of dried ground spices and is easy to mix up at home. There is no canonical recipe; the ingredients and proportions vary from cook to cook, although garlic and chilies are always important elements. Berbere means "hot" in Amharic.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole allspice berries
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 white cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup dried ground chilies
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Directions

Toast the coriander seed, peppercorns, allspice berries, cloves and cardamom pods in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until the spices are fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool.

Grind the toasted spices together in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

Mix the toasted spice mix together with the rest of the ingredients. Makes about 3/4 cup and keeps for up to a year.

Delicious Pairings

Berbere spice mix is traditionally used to flavor a wide variety of Ethiopian dishes such as doro wat. or chicken stew. and misir wat, or lentil stew. But there's no need to confine its use to one cuisine. Try berbere in any of these ways:

  • Flavor roast vegetables, including potatoes, turnips, zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms. 
  • Add to a pot of chili for an unexpected flavor note.
  • Use as a dry rub for steak or lamb chops.
  • Mix into a pot of macaroni and cheese.
  • Add it to your favorite barbecue sauce recipe.
  • Use as a sprinkle for corn on the cob.
  • Add to your next batch of meatballs.

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