Berbere (Ethiopian spice blend)

From the Spice Drawer: Berbere and Awaze

Berbere is a staple spice blend in Ethiopian cuisine. Made up of a number of spices that are roasted and ground, the primary components seem to be fenugreek seeds, cayenne pepper and paprika. The ratio of cayenne to paprika control just how hot the berbere becomes.

Sometimes written as ber-beri (which gives you an idea of how to pronounce it, almost like ‘Burberry’), it imparts a warm red colour to any dish that uses it as the primary seasoning.

Berbere (Ethiopian spice blend)

Berbere is also used to make a strongly flavoured condiment, called Awaze. A mix of berbere, garlic and wine, it is a deep, dark, spicy paste that can be used for dipping. This condiment is one of my favourite additions to my Ethiopian platter, adding an extra kick in combination with the injera (bread) and stews.

Watch for the Friday post for details of my attempt at making an Ethiopian platter! Sooo good!

Awaze - Ethiopian Spice Paste
Awaze – a deep and spicy paste to liven up your meal!

Awaze Paste

original recipe can be found here


  • 1 cup berbere (mild red chili pepper spice blend)
  • 1 tsp mitmita (hot chili pepper spice blend) *optional, only if you want it to be REALLY spicy
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup dry red wine or dry sherry or Tej (Ethiopian honey wine)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon fresh ginger juice
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste


  1. In small bowl, mix the berbere, mitmita (if included), garlic powder, black pepper.
  2. Add wine (or sherry or tej), oil, lemon juice, ginger juice, water, salt to taste; whisk it well.
  3. Keep in the fridge; serve it cold.

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