Ethiopian Berbere Recipe - Vegetarian Food from Ethiopia

Ethiopian Berbere

Ethiopian Berbere Recipe - Vegetarian Food from Ethiopia
Region / culture: Ethiopia | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet


Ethiopian Berbere
Ethiopian Berbere

Berbere is a traditional Ethiopian spice blend that is essential in Ethiopian cuisine. It is a fiery and flavorful mixture that adds depth and complexity to dishes.


Berbere has been used in Ethiopian cooking for centuries and is a key ingredient in many traditional dishes such as doro wat (spicy chicken stew) and misir wat (spicy lentil stew). The blend of spices in berbere varies from region to region and from family to family, making each batch unique.


How to prepare

  1. Heat a heavy frying pan (without oil) and add the chilies and other whole spices after 2–3 minutes.
  2. Dry roast over medium heat until they darken, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  3. Allow the spices to cool, then remove and discard the seeds from the chilies and crumble them into the mixture.
  4. Grind everything, including the ginger, into a fine powder, and store it in an airtight container for up to four months.


  • You can customize the spice blend to suit your taste preferences by adjusting the amount of each spice used. You can also add other spices such as turmeric or paprika for additional flavor.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

When making berbere, it is important to dry roast the spices to bring out their flavors. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent burning. It is also important to remove the seeds from the dried chilies before grinding them into the mixture.

Serving Suggestions

Berbere can be used to season meats, vegetables, and stews. It can also be used as a rub for grilled meats or added to marinades for extra flavor.

Cooking Techniques

Berbere is typically added to dishes during the cooking process to infuse them with flavor. It can also be used as a finishing spice by sprinkling it on top of dishes just before serving.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you are unable to find some of the spices listed in the recipe, you can substitute them with similar spices. For example, you can use cayenne pepper in place of dried red chilies.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make a large batch of berbere and store it in an airtight container for up to four months. This allows you to have the spice blend on hand whenever you need it.

Presentation Ideas

Berbere can be sprinkled on top of dishes just before serving to add a pop of color and flavor. You can also mix it with oil to create a flavorful dipping sauce for bread.

Pairing Recommendations

Berbere pairs well with meats such as chicken, beef, and lamb. It also complements vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store berbere in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to four months. To reheat, simply sprinkle the spice blend on top of dishes and heat them in the oven or microwave.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of berbere contains approximately 10 calories.


Berbere is low in carbohydrates, making it a great option for those following a low-carb diet.


Berbere is low in fats, making it a healthy option for those looking to reduce their fat intake.


Berbere does not contain any significant amount of protein.

Vitamins and minerals

Berbere is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.


Berbere may contain allergens such as coriander and fenugreek. Be sure to check the ingredient list for any potential allergens before consuming.


Berbere is a low-calorie, low-fat spice blend that is rich in vitamins and minerals.


Berbere is a versatile spice blend that adds depth and complexity to dishes. It is easy to make at home and can be customized to suit your taste preferences. Add berbere to your spice collection and experiment with different ways to use it in your cooking.

How did I get this recipe?

I can still recall the sense of amazement I felt when I first saw this recipe for Ethiopian Berbere. It was given to me by a dear friend of mine who had traveled to Ethiopia and experienced the vibrant and flavorful cuisine first hand. I had always been intrigued by different cultures and their unique culinary traditions, so when my friend presented me with this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.

I remember sitting in my cozy kitchen, surrounded by the warm glow of the afternoon sun streaming through the window, as I carefully read through the ingredients and instructions for making Berbere. The list was long and filled with exotic spices that I had never used before - fenugreek, cardamom, and cloves, to name a few. But I was undaunted, for I was always up for a culinary challenge.

I set to work gathering the ingredients, making sure to measure everything out precisely as the recipe called for. As I started toasting the spices in a dry pan, the most incredible aroma filled the kitchen, transporting me to a bustling spice market in far-off Ethiopia. The scent of cumin and coriander mingled with the earthy undertones of paprika and cinnamon, creating a heady perfume that made my mouth water in anticipation.

Next, I added the toasted spices to a mortar and pestle and began grinding them into a fine powder. The rich colors of the various spices blended together to create a deep red hue that was both striking and beautiful. I could feel the excitement building within me as I imagined the bold flavors that would soon be unleashed in my dish.

I continued following the recipe, adding tomato paste, garlic, and ginger to the spice mixture, creating a thick and fragrant paste that was the heart and soul of the Berbere. As the sauce simmered on the stove, the flavors melded together, creating a complex and nuanced taste that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

Finally, it was time to taste the fruits of my labor. I spooned a generous dollop of the Berbere sauce onto a piece of injera, the traditional Ethiopian flatbread, and took a bite. The flavors exploded in my mouth - spicy, savory, and slightly sweet, with a hint of warmth from the aromatic spices. It was a revelation, a culinary masterpiece that I had created with my own two hands.

I couldn't wait to share my creation with my family and friends, to introduce them to the incredible flavors of Ethiopian cuisine and the magic of Berbere. And as they all took their first bite and their eyes widened in delight, I knew that this recipe would become a cherished part of my repertoire, a reminder of the joy and wonder that cooking can bring.

In the years that followed, I made Ethiopian Berbere countless times, each batch slightly different from the last as I experimented with new spices and techniques. But no matter how many times I made it, the sense of amazement and wonder that I felt that first time never faded. And every time I tasted that rich and complex sauce, I was transported back to that sunny afternoon in my kitchen, surrounded by the scent of exotic spices and the warmth of a dish that had captured my heart.


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