Berbere- Ethiopian Red Pepper Spice Mix

So for this first day in Ethiopia I’m sticking with the basics.  Berbere is one of the most important building blocks of Ethiopian cooking- you’ll find it as an ingredient in many stew recipes and in plenty of other dishes as well.  Berbere’s primary ingredient is red pepper, but ten other spices round out the mix.  When you add some to a dish, you’re adding a lot of complex flavor- not just heat.

Just one final note: recipes for berbere vary widely in terms of heat and spice.  If you have a very delicate palate or are extremely heat averse, you can cut down on the cayenne and increase the amount of paprika.


Berbere- Ethiopian Red Pepper Spice Mix

All spices listed below should be dried and ground. If you can't find ground spices or prefer to grind the spices yourself, simply use a coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.


* 1 teaspoon ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
* 1/4 teaspoon allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon cloves
* 2 Tablespoons salt
* 1/4 cup paprika
* 1/2 cup cayenne pepper


Combine all the spices and store in a small airtight container.

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4 Responses to “Berbere- Ethiopian Red Pepper Spice Mix”

  1. #
    Anonymous — November 24, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    There is such a variety of berber mixes! Can't wait to try this one!


  2. #
    Dia — January 4, 2012 at 5:45 am

    This reminds me of my Red Curry Powder – which has more peppers (chili powder & paprika) … how fun!
    Several of my galfriends were surprised to find that you can make your own spice blends like this (thought 'curry' came from one plant) …


  3. #
    Dia — January 4, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Oops – then I looked again, & saw the amount of cayanne & paprika – wow!!
    My curry recipe calls for some of the spices whole (you have to guess a bit more at amounts) & I use all I can get whole! shave the nutmeg … very similar!


  4. #
    CATE — January 4, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Dia- too funny! Although I guess I probably thought the same thing about curry just being from one plant when I was younger.


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