WHAT IS IT?
Berbere is the most important national spice in Ethiopia. It is a cultural identity more than a seasoning. SpiceJungle’s berbere spice blend is a kinder, gentler more aromatic cousin of mitmita, a powerful flavorful blend that uses a lot of ground birdseye chiles. Think more flickering candle than four-alarm house fire. I’m generally not a huge fan of company spice blends, but this one is an exception to the rule because SpiceJungle created such a wonderful, deeply aromatic, colorful, and tasty seasoning that is easy and versatile.
Berbere spice blend is first and foremost an aromatic, with notes of basil, garlic, ginger, and fenugreek happily wafting up your nose, with a bit of earthiness and a gentle chile pop. Blends are like fingerprints, there are so many nuances. It is NOT a curry, but it is similar in composition to a curry powder, which blends various herbs and spices to a happier, easy-to-use, whole.
Berbere is the go-to spice of Ethiopia/Eritrea, but it has found its way into cooking throughout the world, where variations, based on spice availability and preference, have changed it a bit. Ethiopian is the real-deal.
- In Doro Wot, and other berbere-infused chicken recipes;
- In spiced lentils, chickpeas, and legumes;
- Beg Wot, an amazing stewed lamb dish
- A fragrant for couscous
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- My Baksheesh Popcorn uses it as a primary aromatic.
- Sprinkle a little over sous vide scallops
- Pork isn’t halal, but as a basic spice on a pork tenderloin it will blow your mind;
- A vegetarian stew of carrots, corn, potatoes and peanuts in a tomato base with the spice is oh so nice!
If a spice captures the soul of a nation, then Berbere is the soul of Ethiopia. The blend of spices and variations define households, traditions, and family lines. A woman in Ethiopia who is courting a man can often be judged by both her family and his by how she produces her berbere blend. There is an expression that a man ‘has no pepper’ a reference to his cowardice, through the spice.
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