27, Jun 2009

In my quest to try making some Ethiopian food, I started with making Berbere, the spice combo used in a number of dishes. For my first attempt, I started with the first recipe on this page. But it seemed kind of nutso — I mean, over a cup of cayenne pepper? half a cup of paprika? So I modified it. It’s a bit more complicated than just mix some spices in a bowl, but the kitchen smelled great by the time I was done. The berbere has been good on chicken, in lentils, and with chickpeas so far. Though I’m not sure it has justified the labor — the mix seems to have faded a bit in just a couple of weeks, and that wonderful toasty smell that filled the kitchen isn’t really there as much any more (I hoped that, as with toasted nuts, the toastiness would stay even after the mix had cooled). Anyway, berbere recipes seem to vary widely, so I’ll probably experiment with others next time. In the meantime, this jar of it should last a long long time.

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Grated Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
2 tbsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp Allspice
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp smoked paprika

In a heavy saucepan or cast iron skillet, toast the following over low heat for 4 to 5 minutes: coriander, cardamom, fenugreek. Shake or stir to keep from burning. Grind the seeds fine then add back to the skillet. Add everything else and toast, stirring constantly, 10-15 minutes. Cool and store.
Good. The one thing I’d change would be to reduce or leave out the cayenne. It’d be better to add the heat when cooking so I can control the amount.