Don’t just stand there – grill something!  It’s beautiful outside.  Sure, you can resort to the same old hot dogs or hamburgers, but why not make something different to spice things up a bit?  The past few 80 plus degree days are but a promise of what’s yet to come.  Be ready with a great seasoning you can use all summer long.

Berbere is a mix of sweet and savory spices that can be used on all sorts of dishes.  You can use it as a dry rub on poultry or pork, season vegetables with it, or try it stirred into yogurt and served with fruit.

I first saw this recipe in the June 2015 issue of Bon Appetit, but never got around to trying it.   Regrettably, I missed out.   It has been a winner on shrimp, chicken, and even on eggs, so far.   You can buy a premixed blend from Penzey’s Spices, which has fenugreek in it.  Most of the recipes I have seen for this Ethiopian seasoning do include this, and I am not sure why the Bon Appetit recipe did not.

Berbere spice can be made three months ahead.  Keep it stored at room temperature, and be ready for those sunny days ahead.  Meanwhile, keep those cinnamon sticks and cloves handy.  You will need them again to make some chai tea when it rains, which you know it most likely will.


Berbere Spice Mix
  makes about 1/2 cup
1 5-inch cinnamon stick
9 whole cloves
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely crushed ground oregano
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg


Put cinnamon stick in small ziptop bag and whack with wooden rolling pin to break into small pieces.  Combine cinnamon, cloves, and allspice berries in a medium skillet and toast over medium heat, tossing constantly until just fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add coriander and cumin seeds and toast, continuing to toss until cumin begins to brown, about 1 minute more.  Transfer to small bowl and let cool.

Grind spices in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle, until they are a fine powder.  Add paprika, cayenne pepper, ginger, oregano and nutmeg and pulse to combine.

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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