Monday, April 18, 2011

Ethiopian Berbere

Berbere is a spice mix used in Ethiopian cooking.  I first encountered Berbere when I started my personal culinary challenge, Around the World in 80 Dishes.  My first challenge was to cook Doro Wat, an Ethiopian chicken stew.  When I made the dish, I used a pre-made Berbere spice mix.  However, ever since that time, I have always wanted to make my own mix.  I have a lot of ideas for using the mix, from buffalo wings to barbecue.  However, I first needed to learn more about the spice mix and make some.  

As with most recipes, the ingredients and amounts used to make Berbere vary with the cook.  In other words, if you were to search Berbere recipes on the Internet, as I did, you are likely to find several recipes with different ingredients in different amounts.  The key to Berbere is the combination of fenugreek and chile powder.  When it comes to the chile powder, I used a combination of ground medium Hatch chiles (3 tablespoons) and native Nambe peppers (1 tablespoon).  If you do not have Hatch chile powder, you can use cayenne powder.  Generally, other ingredients commonly used in Berbere include allspice, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, turmeric and salt.  If you love spices as much as I do, you can also add cinnamon, coriander, cumin and/or nutmeg.    

Adapted from the Congo Cookbook
Makes about 1/2 cup

4 to 6 teaspoons of ground chile peppers
1 teaspoon of ground fenugreek
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon of  ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (optional)

5 tbsp paprika 5 tbsp garlic powder 2 tbsp onion powder 2 tbsp sea salt 2 tbsp ground ginger 2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 2 tbsp whole cloves 1 tbsp cumin seeds 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds 2 tsp ground Ethiopian cardamom (or substitute ground black cardamom) 1 tsp black peppercorns 1 tsp dried thyme leaves

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Combine all of the ingredients together and mix thoroughly. 

If you would like to make a wet spice mix, you substitute fresh ginger, along with 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onions, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic and 1/4 cup oil of oil, water or red wine.


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