Berbere, along with niter kibbeh, comprises the flavor foundation of many Ethiopian dishes. I like to make large batches of it to have on hand so that whenever I'm in the mood for Ethiopian food I don't have to do any advanced prep work.
What is authentic berbere? That's hard to say because making berbere is a lot like making marinara or curry - each cook has their own variation. From what I have read though, authentic berberes generally contain (among other ingredients) ajwain seeds and rue berries, two items I've never been able to find. All of the spices are then roasted and blended with shallots, garlic and oil to make a paste (although I prefer to stick with a dry seasoning blend as it's easier to store and because I love sprinkling berbere along with nutritional yeast on popcorn).
While it may not be authentic nor exactly the same as my favorite Ethiopian restaurant, the following recipe produces a wonderfully complex mixture that has worked well for me.
I can attest to the glorious flavor of Crystal's dishes made with the recipe below. I also live near an Ethiopian grocery, where I bought a pound of berbere for around $9. As our Ethiopian cuisine mentor urges, obtain as many unique blends as you can get your hands on! Use a different blend for each of your dishes to give them slightly different flavors.
Got extra freezer space? Try your hand at making a paste-style berbere! And if you live near Nashville, pick up some berbere and injera at
A & H Merkato
2131 Murfreesboro Pike, #107
Nashville, TN 37217
- 1/3 cup paprika
- 1/8 -1/2 cup cayenne pepper, depending on your tolerance for heat
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Mix spices in a cake pan.
- Roast for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning.
- Do not store until completely cooled.