Berbere 101: What It Is & 8 Best Berbere Recipes
Berbere spice, a complex blend of chile peppers and spices, is all too familiar across the eastern Horn of Africa – Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia. Here, berbere is considered an all purpose blend that adds warmth and depth to dishes like beans, meats, stews, burgers and roasted vegetables. The word berbere means “hot” in Amharic —a spicy and flavorful spice blend (pronounced bari baray).
What Is Berbere Spice?
Taste: Spicy, sweet
Uses: Wots (stews), dry rubs, lentil soups, roasted vegetables, dips
A deeply flavorful combination of spicy and sweet, berbere spice is the Ethiopian equivalent of garam masala. Berbere spice recipes vary regionally, but usually has some combination of dried red chiles, black peppercorns, fenugreek, ginger, green cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
How To Use Berbere
Just a pinch of berbere spice will add depth and spicy flavor to stews, soups, vegetables and meat rubs. Berbere may be used dry as a rub or mixed with oil to form a paste. Use it to add flavor to Ethiopian slow-cooked wats (stews) with lentils, beans, or meat or add to lentil soup, roasted veggies or stir-fries. You can also sneak some into burgers or meatballs. Marcus Samuelsson, the famous Ethiopian chef, loves using berbere spice as a dip with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, berbere, and chopped olives.
Where to Buy Berbere
West African Peanut Soup
Berbere Paste, Ethiopian
Key Wat (Ethiopian Spicy Stewed Beef)
Key wat is an Ethiopian style stew that is typically prepared with fall apart chicken, beef, lamb or a variety of vegetables. The cornerstone of this dish is a spice blend called RawSpiceBar's Berbere Spice. Full recipe here.