Recipe Index

Berbere Spice Blend

Makes over 1/2 cup of ground spice blend


Berbere spice blends, along with spiced “butter”, are the crux of so many Ethiopian stews. Berbere can range from mild to fiery; I like to make mine with purely hot paprika, but a blend of both hot and sweet is a good all purpose berbere for any of these dishes. Recycle a clean glass 1 ounce spice jar for storing your berbere blend, and use within 3 months for the best flavor.


  • 6 green cardamom pods or 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • 6 allspice berries or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon coriander sides
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons ground hot or sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. If using the cardamom pods, open them with your fingers or the tip of a sharp paring knife and remove the seeds. I usually find it easiest to slice each pod horizontally, break open the pod and shake out the seeds. Discard the empty pods.


2. In a skillet over medium heat toast together the cardamom seeds, allspice berries (but not the ground allspice if using), coriander, cumin, fenugreek, peppercorns, and cloves for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove seeds immediately when fragrant and fenugreek seeds have darkened slightly.


3. Grind the toasted spices with the ground paprika, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, salt and cinnamon in a coffee grinder as fine as you can make it. Store in a clean, dry glass jar and cover tightly. Keep in a dark, cool kitchen cabinet and use within 3 months for the best flavor.