Berbere is a hot, flavorful combination of a number of spices, and is a frequent ingredient in Ethiopian food. Like apple pie, there is no one exact recipe for berbere, but the most commonly appearing ingredients include cumin seeds, coriander seeds, whole cloves, cardamom seeds, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek seeds, whole red chiles, and sweet paprika. The seeds and spices are typically combined in a dry saucepan and toasted for a few minutes, then ground together in a food processor or coffee grinder. The resulting dry mixture can be used as-is, or you can add oil or wine to make berbere paste. This is similar to the way curries can be found as a powder or paste. Berbere is typically used about a tablespoon at a time to flavor dishes according to the taste of the cook.

I am including two recipes for berbere, one dry and one wet.
Be warned: Depending on your recipe, berbere can be explosively hot! A little goes a long way; and if you are going to test the heat and flavor of your berbere, for the love of Heaven, put it in some rice first! That said, enjoy!

Dry Berbere
2 ts cumin seeds
4 whole cloves
3/4 ts cardamom seeds
1/2 ts black peppercorns
1/4 ts whole allspice
1 ts fenugreek seeds
1/2 ts coriander seeds
8 small dried red chiles
1/2 ts grated fresh ginger root
1/4 ts turmeric
1 ts salt
2 1/2 tb sweet Hungarian paprika
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ground clove

On medium low heat, toast the cumin, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, allspice, fenugreek, and coriander for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the pan and cool for 5 minutes. Discard any stems from the spices and chiles. In a grinder or with a mortar and pestle, grind together the toasted spices and the chiles until the mixture is fine. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Store berbere in an airtight container (preferrably glass) in the refrigerator.

Wet Berbere
2 ts cumin seed
4 whole cloves
1/2 ts cardamom seeds
1/2 ts black peppercorns
1/4 ts whole allspice
1 ts whole fenugreek seeds
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
3 oz red chiles
3 small dried long hot red chiles
1/2 ts ground ginger
1/2 ts freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 ts ground turmeric
1 ts garlic powder
2 ts salt
1/2 cup salad oil or peanut oil
1/2 cup dry red wine
Cayenne pepper to taste

Mix together the cumin, cloves, cardamon, black peppercorns, allspice and fenugreek seeds and toast over medium heat. Stir constantly for about 1-2 minutes. Cool completely. Remove and discard any stems from the spices and chiles. Combine the toasted spices and all the other ingredients except the oil and wine in a grinder and grind to fine consistency. Place the spice blend in a bowl and gradually add the oil and wine until the mixture is about the thickness of toothpaste. Add cayenne to taste (start with about 1 ts) and stir well. Store the berbere paste in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator.

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