Homemade Berberé Spice Mix
Flip through an Ethiopian cookbook or surf through an Ethiopian food blog and you will see dark, hazy images often in muddy shades of brown and chilli red. You will also see food arrayed out in glorious technicolor on brown coloured injera. If you were lucky enough to be let in on the secret of an Ethiopian roast or Doro Wat (stew), the names Berberé and Niter Kibbeh will inevitably be mentioned. Berberé is an Ethiopian spice blend or mix used as an essential flavouring base in Ethiopian cuisine. It is the centrepiece of many Ethiopian dishes and comes packed with a strong and varied mix of spices such as allspice, cloves, cardamon, fenugreek, ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin seeds and birds eye chilli peppers. As with most popular spice mix recipes apart from the basic ingredients variations and twists can be made or added. In this Berberé spice mix recipe one of my favourite, but perhaps least accessible spices, Africa’s grains of paradise, is added.
Berberé is really easy to make. Most cooks will either opt for a dry Berberé spice mix or add oil or water to it to form a paste. If you are particularly sensitive to cayenne or the fiery African birds eye chilli then I will suggest you replace that with red paprika.
The whole spices are pan-toasted first and then ground using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder to release their essential oils, as is done in the traditional Ethiopian way. The originally ground spices are then added to the freshly ground whole spices to make Berberé.
This all-purpose spice blend can add comfort and depth to a huge number of dishes like lentils, meats and stews. Try it on non-Ethiopian dishes and you will be impressed with its wonderful myriad of flavours and warmth.
Click to Get the recipe for Berberé Spice