Monday, December 27, 2010

Berberé (Ethiopian/Eritrean Spice Mixture )

Berberé, like any curry, has many regional inflections - and every cook has their own recipe, many containing over 30 ingredients. While this is a dry blend, berberé pastes are also often made, using fresh peppers. 

This can be used to flavor any stew (recipes to follow). I also often spray strips of root veggies with olive oil, then sprinkle berberé on top and roast. 

This year I mixed up large batches and filled assorted jars collected from thrift shops for holiday gifts- include a few easy suggestions as well as a more involved recipe.

1 Tbsp cumin seeds
12 whole cloves
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole allspice
1 1/3 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
12 small dried red chiles
4 small cinnamon sticks
2 whole nutmeg
1 tsp dried ginger
1 Tbsp tumeric
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp sweet paprika


1. Heat a dry skillet. Reduce heat to low and add whole spices, in batches if necessary. Toast until fragrant, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from skillet immediately, and place in glass bowl to cool.

2. When seeds have cooled, add remaining spices to bowl and stir.

3. Add the spices to an electric spice or coffee grinder in three batches; pulse 4 times, then grind until powdered. Pour into a bowl, and stir all three batches together when finished.

(Hint : of course we are supposed to have two separate grinders for coffee and spices, but sometimes we don't have space or money for that luxury! I use the same grinder: I just clean well before and after, and enjoy the fact that my coffee is spicy for a week or so! )

4. Store in an airtight glass container.
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