a hot and deeply spice and herb mix used in stews and soups in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. The spices are toasted to intensify their flavors and the mix can contain red peppers, coriander seeds, cloves, ajwain/bishop's weed, rue berries, nigella seeds, korarima/false cardamom, allspice, peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, cumin, mint, garlic, onion, ginger, and cardamom. The ingredients vary according to individual taste, but fenugreek and red peppers typify this seasoning.  The spice blend can be used or stored dry or mixed with water and packed into a sealed container topped with olive oil and will keep for 6 months.

A sample Berbere recipe:

Note - 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons dry or paste are used to strongly season one adult serving of a dish to which it is added.  This blend does not include ajwain or Bishop’s weed, nigella seeds, korarima, or rue berries.


4 tbsp cayenne, arbol, or guajillo pepper flakes, dried pieces, and seeds

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp whole black pepper

2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp whole cloves

2 cups medium onions minced or 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried onion flakes or powder

2 tbsp finely chopped garlic or 1 tspn garlic flakes or powder

2 cups Hungarian paprika

tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tbsp salt

1/2 cups water

1.   In a small, preferably cast iron skillet, combine the unground spices. Toast the berries, peppers, and seeds over medium heat taking care to move the spices constantly so as not to burn them.  Toast for about 3 minutes when the spices will release a pungent aroma.

2.   Process onion, garlic, toasted spices, and 1/4 cup water until thoroughly macerated and blended .

3.   Toast remaining spices in the hot skillet for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 

4.   Add processed mixture to the skillet along with water, 1/4 cup at a time,  combining thoroughly and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Store in an airtight container topped with extra virgin olive oil.  The mixture will keep for up to 6 months, refrigerated.