Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Make Berbere Spice and What to Do with It (Partial List)

I love berbere spice, but it never occurred to me to make my own. I usually get it pre-mixed from the fancy grocery store, and it’s never disappointed, but I’ve wanted to feature it in a recipe, so I figured I’d also show how to make a batch from scratch.

Well, sort of from scratch. To make this “for real,” you need to buy the whole spice seeds/pods, toast them, and grind it yourself. It does make a difference, but I rationalize not doing all that extra work because I usually toast the spices during the cooking process anyway.

I’m not exactly sure what dried chili pepper(s) would be most authentic, but many people are saying that the New Mexico chili I used does a nice job. They have a nice, sweet, earthy flavor, and are sort of medium spicy. If you can’t find it, they say California or ancho chilies can work.

Like I said in the video, please use the ingredients and amounts below as an outline, and adjust this to your tastes. Once you’ve perfected your formula, you’ll be the proud owner of one of the most delicious, and versitle spice mixes ever. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients (everything can/should be adjusted to taste):
1/2 cup ground dried New Mexico chiles
1/4 cup paprika
1 generous tablespoon cayenne
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

For the chicken:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, seasoned with salt and berbere spice to taste
2 teaspoon melted butter
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoon tomato paste
1/4 chicken broth, or as needed
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp berbere spice
salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


Unknown said...

This is a three part question. 1) I've been reading on deglazing and everyone all the time says proper deglazing is done in stainless cookware. I gave up on stainless years back when I wasn't into cooking that seriously and switched non stick, I was wondering what ss to buy 18/10? Do i really need expensive products. Or will 3 ply with a core do fine of a decent price? So with that i see you deglazed and made a sauce using what appears to be a non stick. Explain if you could why. Ok so part 3. I am getting into grinding fresh spices (whole coriander and such) what electric grinder works best. Thanks for everything.

SotF said...

My only real suggestion is to ditch using the bowl to mix the spices. Just put the measured spices directly in the container you plan to store it in. Don't bother with the whisk either, once you've put your spices in the container, seal it and give it a good shake. You'll have the same end result with far less work and you won't need to wash the whisk or bowl.

On top of that, there is less chance of things getting upended on you.

For a use suggestion, try it as a replacement for the rub for the paper pork recipe.

Unknown said...

no joke, i literally made berbere-spiced red lentils last night & watched your most recent videos while they were simmering. it would be awesome if you featured some other ethiopian dish! that happens to be one of my favorite cuisines.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the spice blend Chef John. I can't wait to try it! I just gotta find some fenugreek

Unknown said...

Thanks Chef John. :)

Unknown said...

Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba Berbere

Food Junkie said...

Berbere chicken is amazing stuff. I've used one of the 5 million variations on this mix in the past and it is a spice blend well worth trying. I find it very good on skin-on chicken pieces and baked to crispy golden goodness.

Unknown said...

This looks like chili + garam masala + pie spice. LOL...Kind of true in terms of geographic location. A little bit of Asian, American and Mediterranean. Fantastic!

Ann said...

Thanks for the spice mix video/blog! Going to take your suggestion and use it on cauliflower steak. I hope you make more spice mix videos -- LOVE THEM!!!

Unknown said...

Chef John. How about a video on the most often use of berbere..... Doro Wat spicey chicken stew. Yummmmm I order it at a local ethiopian restaurant every time.

Unknown said...

Where did the fried chicken gravy video go?

Unknown said...

Wow! Looks like a great addition to my collection of mixed spices that I always conjure up myself. Can't wait to put it together. Thanks Chef John!

Ctrl Alt Eat said...

Basically Garam Masala + ground allspice?

Matthew C said...

I hope this isn't a silly question, but is the fenugreek called for here ground seeds, or powdered leaves (kasuri methi)? Thanks!

Matthew C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...


This recipe has had my mouth watering since I first saw it, and I'd love to try it, but I'm wondering how important the addition of the Fenugreek is. Apparently people with severe peanut allergies such as myself should refrain from eating it, so I'm wondering if it would change things too much to leave it out, or if there's something I can use instead?

Ctrl Alt Eat said...

@Matthew C : Indian Garam Masala would use the seeds; so I'm going to guess that this would hold true for this spice mix. Kasuri Mehti would be a finishing garnish to add color and some woodsy maple notes.

Zosia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

1/4 chicken broth, or as needed

I assume you mean a 1/4 CUP.. and not 1/4 of the Chicken stoke I do have..

Unknown said...

I've been cooking peppers and onions in the skillet on the grill a lot lately. I'll have to add jalapenos next time. Yum. I like cooking bacon that way too, although hot fat + open flame adds a nice element of danger. I used to get flank steak, but my husband got me to try the carne asada cut from our local market, and I prefer it. Not sure if it's thin-cut flank or skirt (I'll have to ask), but it looks like this 

cappy102 said...

Trying this on the T-bird today.

Also thought about papering it, but think something smaller (quail?) might be best for getting it down.

But definitely Berbere for this holiday.

Lovely Princess ❤️ said...

Thanks Chef John. :) I can't wait to try it! I just gotta find some fenugreek

ScienceSusan said...

I’m with Andy Z, and up the ante to add Injera. Also, if you use a sifter, mixed and clump free. So convenient.

Marcus in LaPorte IN said...

Burberry spice? How trenchant of you! Great coating for meat. Hah hah

ScienceSusan said...

You know, Shakshuka (delicious) also deserves an African tag. Doesn’t it?

Unknown said...

@science susan i second that!

NanaPeace said...

This recipe was a BIG hit for my visiting family and took no time at all. It's a comforting, delicious, not really spicy to our spicy loving family, but a "with pepper" heat mixture. I'm going to mix a giant batch to put in separate containers, as Christmas gifts come December. Perfect!!!

Redcaddy said... case anyone else out there is totally unfamiliar with dried New Mexico Chilies like I am.... I bought a 3 oz bag of them at Publix today. Knowing NOTHING about dried peppers, I did think that these might not grind well. They were slightly moist and soft. So I turned my oven to 250F and spread the chilies out on a baking sheet lined with parchment. After 20 minutes or so, I checked and the smaller ones seemed more "dried". Took them out, let them cool and..viola! They were dry and crumbly Easily removed seeds and membranes. Wound up going through the whole package Bad news, I need another 3 oz pkg to begin to come near the 1/2 c called for. That's OK, though. Have wait til Tuesday for the fenugreek to arrive from Amazon!