Berbere -- Ethiopian Red Pepper and Spice Paste

Berbere -- Ethiopian Red Pepper and Spice Paste

Time: 30 mins


  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 2 cups paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 -2 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • 1 In a heavy frying pan, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and allspice over a low heat for a minute or so.
  • 2 Stir constantly until they are heated through and then remove from the pan.
  • 3 Next you need to combine the toasted spices, onions, garlic, 1 tbsp of the salt and all of the wine together into a smooth paste.
  • 4 I prefer to do this in a mortar and pestle but if you have a blender that is good with small quantities that may work too.
  • 5 Next mix the paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and the rest of the salt in the frying pan and toast them over a low heat.
  • 6 Stir in the water 1/4 cup at a time and then add the spice and wine mixture.
  • 7 Stir vigorously and cook over the lowest possibly heat, stirring all the time, for an absolute minimum of 5 minutes and up to 10 or even 15 minutes if you can.
  • 8 Transfer the spice paste to a jar and pack it in tightly.
  • 9 Let the paste cool to room temperature and then cover with enough oil so it makes a film about 1/4 inch thick.
  • 10 Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • 11 If you keep it covered with oil, the paste will last in the fridge for 5-6 months.

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