Homemade Mild Berbere Spice Mix- Ethiopian Recipe

 photo IMG_1877_zps89c261b0.jpgIf you've been reading my blog for some time, you'll be aware of the fact that I'm very into "ethnic" foods from various cultures around the world, especially cultures where they make low cost, vegan dishes, such as India or Mexico. Ethiopian food is one of those that I love, since it is super low cost to make, relies heavily on legumes, and is so full of flavor that you forget you're eating legumes.
Ethiopian food can be pretty much be summed up in two words- injera and berbere.
Injera is a naturally gluten free, fermented flat bread which is the base of all Ethiopian meals. It is used as the plate and also as the utensils with which you eat the food. I have tried numerous times to make injera at home and have floppped many times...
Berbere is a spice mix made with many ingredients, and it is used in most Ethiopian dishes to give them their signature flavor.
Oh, and did I mention berbere is fiery hot?
I made an Ethiopian meal the other day, but with a homemade flat bread that was not injera, and I made homemade berbere to use in the various ethiopian dishes for the meal. I based it off of this recipe, only I didn't make it fiery hot- only mildly spicy (I wanted my kids to eat it!), and the food came out terrifically.
If you like things volcanicly hot, feel free to increase the amount of hot pepper flakes in the recipe.
For everyone else, keep it the same.
And if you like no spice, leave it out entirely.

For the most part I used non ground spices instead of pre-ground spices. If you use non ground ones like I did, just increase the amount you put in by a drop, since ground spices are more compact than whole.

Homemade Mild Berbere Spice Mix- Ethiopian Recipe

1/2 cup (sweet) paprika
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (adjust as needed)

1. Put all the spices into a coffee grinder (or mortar and pestle, but that will be a lot more work).

2. Grind until you have a fine, uniform mixture.

Use and enjoy!

P.S. If you do enjoy Ethiopian cooking, I have a gluten full mock injera recipe that I've already shared on PennilessParenting.com, and I have another delicious Ethiopian recipe coming right up.

Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? What was it? Were you a fan? Ever heard of or used berbere before? Does this look like a spice mix you'd enjoy?
Are you a fan of super hot and spicy or no?

Linking up to Real Food WednesdayAllergy Free Wednesday

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Berbere is like a delicious volcano in your mouth......my favorite way to have the spice is mixed with just enough oil to make it goopy, poured over mashed potatoes

  2. What a coincidence! I was literally just eating homemade Ethiopian food with homemade berbere when I saw you post! It's amazing how berbere is used in a wide variety of Ethiopian dishes, but the tastes of each dish can still be distinct. So glad you're sharing the recipe with others :)

  3. Hi, I heard about this spice on the radio just now. I do not like VERY hot spices. The Epicurious site suggests 1/2 cup ground dried New Mexico chiles and 1/4 cup paprika. You suggest 1/2 c sweet paprika. Does that make a big difference?

    1. 1/2 cup ground new mexico chilis will be insanely spicy... As it is my version is spicy, just not burn your mouth up spicy. Sweet paprika is not spicy, so my version would be better if you dont like too hot, and even minimize the amount of hot pepper in mine.

    2. Thank you, I will certainly give this a try! There was an interview with an Ethiopian Chef yesterday on the CBC. He, his sister and his mother walked for many miles when he was a little boy, to a hospital because his mother had TB, which she did not survive. On that walk she cooked simple food, spiced with Berbere, which he now calls "his mother." He was adopted by a Swedish couple and now lives in Canada. Nice story.

  4. woops forgot to tick notify me!


  5. do you roast the spices or just use it raw--assuming it is fine as it cook in the lentils

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