December 23, 2008

Berbere – Ethiopian Spice ~ Michael Levin


Ethiopians have exquisite food. It’s more than just nutrition. It’s culture. It’s friendship. And, it tastes great. My Ethiopian friends at The Nile amazed the guests I brought to their restaurant on another visit. My friends couldn’t believe I had only been there once before. We were greeted so warmly. The food was so good. We ate with our right hand, using injera, the pankake like bread made from teff, a nutritious gluten free grain. And, I came away with a prize: berbere.

Berbere is a combination of chili peppers, ginger, ajwain, allspice, rue berries, cloves, coriander and other spices grown in Ethiopia. Or, some combination thereof. All I can say is thank you, thank you. Because, it’s so tasty and distinctive. Before you ask, if you want some, just find your nearest grocer or restaurant and ask for it. They’ll know what you are talking about. Hopefully. Otherwise, you can probably get some from The Nile restaurant. 

So, how do you use berbere? It’s easy. Just make your favorite dish and before its done, sprinkle some bebere on it. For example, I just made some chickpea, eggplant, zucchini and tomato and added the berbere to the mix just before it was done cooking. Voila! Spectacular flavor. Season to taste.

Another way to use berbere is as a dip. Put some in a dish and mix it with lemon juice. Again, amazing taste. Thank you, Ethiopia!


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