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Berbere Paste

Thursday, 23 October 2008


Berbere is the famous, or should we say, infamous, scorching Eithiopian hot sauce.  One recipe we ran across called for over a cup of powdered cayenne!  It is used as an ingredient in a number of dishes, a coating when drying meats, and as a side dish or condiment.  Tribal custom dictated that it be served with kifo, raw meat dishes that are served warm.  This sauce will keep for a couple of month under refrigeration.  Serve sparingly as a condiment with grilled meats and poultry or add to soups and stews.  Extremely Hot!


At a glance
Chile peppers
Cooking Method
Heat Level
1 cup
  • 4 whole cardamon pods
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 small onion, coarsley chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 15 dried piquin chiles, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons vegtable oil


Toast the cardamon, cumin, peppercorns, and fenugreek in a hot skillet, shaking constantly, for a couple of minutes, until the start to crackle and "pop."  In a spice mill, grind these spices to form a powder.

Combine the onions, garlic, and 1/2 cup water in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add the chiles, cayenne, paprika, ground spices, and the ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves and continue to blend.  Slowly add the remaining water and oil and blend until smooth.  Remove to a saucepan and simmer the sauce for 15 mintues to blend the flavors and thicken.  Extremely Hot!


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