Berbere (pronounced bur-bur-uh) is an intriguing spice blend from Ethiopia and Eritrea that’s full of intoxicating spices like allspice berries, fenugreek seeds, ajwain, and more. It has just a bit of kick from mild chiles, but it won’t blow your mouth off with too much heat. Instead, it boasts of complex, yet balanced flavors that are both floral and sweet. It’s traditionally used to season slow-cooked stews known as wats, but this versatile spice blend can also be used as rub for meats and fish, sprinkled over fruits, vegetables and eggs, mixed with yogurt and other ingredients to make a sauce or a marinade, the options are seemingly endless and most delicious. Below is a berbere recipe from World Spice, as well as five additional recipes to make with this wonderful spice blend.
Makes 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon coriander seed
2 teaspoons fenugreek seed
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ajwain seed
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon cardamom seed
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons sequin chiles or African cayenne
2 teaspoons garlic granules
1 1/2teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
In a mortal and pestle, crack the cloves into small pieces - this will allow them to disperse more evenly into the mix. In a heavy dry pan over medium heat, toast the cloves, coriander, fenugreek, peppercorns, ajwain, and allspice until they are fragrant. Remove from the pan before they begin to smoke and allow to cool. Mix the remaining ingredients. Store in an airtight container and grind just before use.
From World Spice at Home: New Flavors for 75 Favorite Dishes
“Your burgers and fries will taste better than ever with Berbere Ketchup. The mild heat and rich flavors of berbers blend together perfectly with the tomatoes. This version has a notable but mellow spice level, so add more berbers if you want to really feel the heat. And, to turn one sauce into two, just add a few extra ingredients to the ketchup and you’ve got cocktail sauce with a twist!” ~ World Spice
Makes 4 cups
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground berbere
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons flake or kosher salt
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauce until softened. Sprinkle with the berbere and stir to coat. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until the berbere is fragrant.
Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, lemon juice, and salt and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to the consistency of ketchup. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Cool the ketchup to room temperature. You can keep your ketchup chunky and rustic, or transfer to a blende and process until it is uniform and smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Note: To make a cocktail sauce, mix 1 cup of the Berbere Ketchup with 1/4 cup prepared horseradish and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Check out these other delicious recipes featuring berbere!
These delicious beef burgers are packed with veggies like kale, onion, carrots, and Asian mustard greens, and spiced up with berbere. Yum!
This light and healthy dish is made with lentils, cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, yogurt, and spiced with amchar masala (a blend of toasted fenugreek, black peppercorns, coriander, fennel seeds, cumin, and brown mustard seeds)
and berbere. You can buy amchar masala on Amazon here.
These cousins to the Indian samosa are filled with a wonderful combination of lentils, onions, ginger, and berbere.
Zighini: A Spicy Eritrean Lamb Stew
Zighini is a spicy Eritrean stew typically consisting of tomatoes, onions and lamb or beef. It is served, along with other dishes, atop a thin pancake-like sour bread known as injera.