Ancient African Spice


In Ethiopia, mastering the art of cooking is so essential to a young woman. During courtship she will be judged not only by her beauty but also on her ability to create the perfect Berbere spice blend. Berbere is so important to Ethiopian culture that there is even a commonplace expression used to describe a man who is a coward as being a man who has no pepper. Berbere is a complex spice blend which includes such ingredients as garlic, chiles, cumin, paprika, peppercorn, Fenugreek Leaves, Korarima (species of the ginger family), Bessobela (sacred Ethiopian basil), and Long Pepper to start. This spice blend cannot be overlooked as being one of the most intense and uniquely flavoured spice blends I have ever had the pleasure of cooking with. It reminds me of an Indian spice blend due to it’s many similar ingredients but with a unique flavour all of its own. I am sure this is due to it’s many indigenous ingredients that are not so easy to come by in other parts of the world, such as the sacred Ethiopian basil or the sun dried shallots. This spice blend is created and sold online by a few suppliers but it goes without saying that hands down has it mastered. As important as this spice mixture is to this deep inherently rich culture I am certain there are a couple of very happy mothers celebrating big style out there. That would be the mothers of the woman who are responsible for Berbere at Well done girls....hats off to you! The great thing about Berbere is that you do not need to be a well seasoned chef to cook with this spice blend. They have done all the hard work for you. All you need to do is add it and serve. I have a lot of great ideas on how to incorporate this spice blend into my mainstream daily menus. I have had the sheer pleasure of testing a couple of great recipes using this blend (see below for details). If you are looking to startle your taste buds with something new and exciting I highly recommend Berbere. My cupboard will not be without it ever again. This serves safely 6 as a side dish or 3-4 as a main.

What you will need

3 teaspoons Berbere Spice plus more for dusting Yams

1 teaspoon Roasted Ground Cumin

1 teaspoon Salt

1 tablespoon Minced Ginger

1 Onion Chopped

1 Mango cut into small chunks

5 cups Chickpeas Cooked

1 Roasted Yam (large)

2 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter) or Canola Oil

1 Can Light Coconut Milk

5 Vine Ripe Tomatoes skinned and cut

2 handfuls Chopped Cilantro (stems and all)

2 handfuls Roasted Unsalted Peanuts

1-2 Limes (juice only)


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