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Don’t Stew in the Same Juices Ethiopian Berber Rub and Stew

Don’t Stew in the Same Juices – Ethiopian Berber Rub and Stew

In a quest to find a different chicken recipe I turned to Ethiopia, a cuisine I am totally unfamiliar with. I know all of the major supermarkets stock a blend of the Berbere spice, but I decided to mix up a batch myself, as I had all the components in the cupboard.

I was a little worried about the smokiness of the paprika overpowering the flavours, but I was pleasantly surprised. The flavour was well rounded and enjoyed by my whole family.

The Berbere spice can be used as a base for a meat, vegan or vegetarian stew. Add 2 cups of water to the paste recipe, with 3 Tablespoons of tomato puree.  For vegans and vegetarians the sauce would be delicious with aubergines, courgettes, chickpeas, lentils and sweet potatoes.

For my Southern Hemisphere readers, add the rub to BBQ meat or vegetables and enjoy a different tasty marinade.

I made an Easy Pulled Chicken and Sweet Potato Berber Stew:

I used the Berber paste (recipe below) to marinade 8 chicken thighs for a couple of hour, chopped 4 small sweet potatoes and added one pouch of ready cooked beluga lentils (250g).  This was the method. In a pot I added the chicken, Berbere paste and covered the chicken with just enough cold water (you can add a stock cube if you like) to come 3/4 of the way up the chicken thighs. Added 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and stirred everything together. I cooked the chicken for 30 minutes or until the thighs were tender (this will depend on the size of the thighs). Removing the thighs from the pot, I added the sweet potatoes into the Berbere sauce and cooked the sweet potato until tender, this took about 15- 20 minutes. Adding the chicken back to the pot, I added one pouch of ready cooked beluga lentils and stirred everything together. My family loved the flavour of the one pot Ethiopian Berber Stew.

Ethiopian Berber
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
A spice paste that will add a twist to your usual stew or meat rub. The familiar spices combine to form a very different flavour combination. The spice levels can easily be adjusted to suit your palate.
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: North African
Servings: 6
  • 5-10g dried red chillies (rehydrated in boiling water for 30 minutes reserve the liquid)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 shallots or 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 Tablespoons sunflower oil
  1. In a non stick frying pan toast all the spices until the aromas of the spices come through.
  2. In a blender blend the spices to a fine powder.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, chillies and oil to the spices and blend to a paste.
  4. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add a little of the chilli rehydrating water.
  5. Add the paste back to the frying pan and cook the mixture over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
  6. Stir often so that the spices do not burn.
  7. Cool and seal in a sterilised and airtight jar for up to 2 weeks.
The amount of chilli in the recipe can be adjusted to taste.
Use the paste in a stew or as a rub.
The flavours suite meat, chicken, pulses or legumes.








Enjoy this wonderful recipe.

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