Ethiopian Berbere Sauce

Ethiopian berbere is a traditional hot condiment containing lots of paprika and chili,  that can be prepared both as a dry masala or a sauce / paste. It is part of 

many dishes in the Ethiopian cuisine and a 

portion of it can usually be found in nearly every household in the country. Although many of the ingredients can be found in nearly all recipes of this Ethiopian condiment there are mixed in countless variations in family recipes around the country. Living in South Africa with it's international population you can't help but learn and being influenced by the lovely people from different cultures. In our neighborhood there many African families that have their roots in other countries and cultures of the African, European and Asian continents. Loving food and being eager to learn I got to learn about this delicious recipe.

Preparation time: 15 minutes 
Cooking time: at least 60 minutes
Resting time: 0 minutes
Total time needed: at least 1 H 15 minutes
Grade of Difficulty: standard

Ethiopian Berbere Sauce

Ingredients  for  Ethiopian Berbere SauceIngredients for Ethiopian Berbere Sauce
  • 8 pods of cardamom
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground fenugreek seeds
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. allspice
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 5 large cloves of Garlic, chopped finely
  • 5 cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 2 tbs. salt
  • 50ml dry red wine
  • 250 ml paprika powder
  • 5 red cayenne chilies, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp. dry red cayenne chili flakes
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 400 ml water
  • 2 tbs. peanut oil


  • Place cardamom pods, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, nutmeg, cloves cinnamon and allspice in a dry pan and roast on low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently. You should smell the aroma of the spices as they start to warm up. Take of the stove and place in a bowl or on a plate to let them cool down.
  • Soak garlic and ginger in water for about 10 minutes than use a sharp knife to scratch of the skin of the ginger and peel the garlic. (soaking them is optional but makes it easier to remove the skins)
  • Chop garlic, onion, red chili peppers and ginger fine and place in a bowl. (Don’t grind the onion in a fruit processor as this might make them bitter)
  • Add the wine, roasted spices and salt to the bowl with the onion mix and blend everything well. 
  • In a non-stick frying pan heat the paprika, chili flakes, black and white pepper and roast on low heat for about a minute, stirring the spices constantly
  • Slowly add the water, a third at a time to the spices, stirring constantly,
  • Next add the peanut oil and finally the onion spice mix from the bowl and bring everything again to a low simmer.
  • Let the sauce simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring it regularly
  • Take the sauce of the heat, let it cool down a little before you pore it into a glass jar with an air tide lid. Once it has cooled down completely store it in the fridge, where it can keep fresh for several month.

This amount of ingredients should yield about 500 ml / 17 oz

We love the recipe just like it is but If you make Ethiopian berbere paste for the very first time you might want to start with a

 smaller quantity and adjust the amounts of spices slightly to suit your personal preferences.  

Caution the resulting spice paste is very potent and you should use it initially only in small amounts (1 or 2 tsps. at a time) to mix in with your stews and curries till you got a feel for its intensity. 

Doro Wat -

Ethiopian Chicken stew with Hot berbere sauce

Niter kibe - 

Ethiopian clarified spiced Butter

Zizil Alicha Wot - 

Ethiopian Beef Stew (Mild)

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