Berberé is a spice mixture whose ingredients usually include chile peppers, garlic, ginger, dried basil, rue, white and black pepper and ajwain. The mixture is rounded and warm, with a combination of hot, pungent and sweet flavors that make it quite adaptable, as well as delicious in this spicy lentil stew.
Ethiopian Lentil Stew with Berberé
2 cups French green lentils
6 cups vegetable stock
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped flat parsley
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups chopped plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons Berberé spice blend, purchased or make your own, recipe follows
Place the lentils, stock and salt to taste in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 45 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, sauté the onion and carrot in the oil until softened about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and berberé spice and sauté several minutes longer, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Drain the lentils and add to the pot. Simmer 10 minutes to combine flavors, season with more salt if necessary and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
From “Field Guide to Herbs and Spices” (Quirk Productions Inc., $15.95)
Ethiopian Berberé Spice Blend
1/4 cup coriander seed
2 tablespoons cumin seed
4 teaspoons fenugreek seed
4 teaspoons ajwain seed
4 teaspoons black peppercorns
12-16 allspice berries
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 crushed bird’s eye chiles (substitute 1 teaspoon crumbled dried hot chile)
2 tablespoons sea salt
In a dry skillet, roast coriander, cumin, fenugreek seed, ajwain, black peppercorns and allspice berries until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool and then grind. Mix with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, chile and salt. Store in a tightly sealed container in a dark place, up to 3 months.
From Aliza Green, “Field Guide to Herbs & Spices,” adapted from a recipe by Ian Hemphill of Herbie’s Spice’s Australia and author of Spice Notes.