Berbere is the quintessential spice mix of Ethiopian cuisine – it is perhaps one of the most complex spice blends in the world, rivaled only by the mighty ras-el-hanout of northern Africa, which can have as many as 40 different herbs and spices (mine has 36)!
Berbere is a spice mixture whose primary spices usually include chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima (lesser Cardamom), rue (a bitter herb that I have not used in my version of the recipe), ajwain, nigella, and fenugreek.
Berbere sometimes encompasses herbs and spices that are less well known internationally. The latter include both cultivated plants and those that grow wild in Ethiopia, such as korarima and long pepper. Regular cardamom is a fine substitute for korarima and long pepper is finally available in the U.S. – I include a source in the recipe.
This is a ubiquitous spice used throughout Ethiopian recipes – but it’s also killer sprinkled on BBQ ribs, meatloaf, used in dip – anywhere you’d normally use chili powder. It is also the primary ingredient in Awaze, a spicy dip served with most Ethiopian meals.
(immodestly) – give it a try and know why Ethiopian cuisine is some of the finest on the planet! 🙂
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