Berbere ( Red Chili Pepper )

Ethiopians use berbere to make a sort of simmer sauce called awaze, a blend of berbere, water and oil that you toss into the skillet to give some flavor to a dish like derek (dry) tibs (beef, chicken or lamb fried up in kibe with onions and peppers). Similar to awaze is delleh, which adds a spot of t’ej to the mixture. I have a dictionary that defines awaze as awaze and delleh as “red hot chili paste.” So the two names are somewhat interchangeable.



It is the staple spice blend of Ethiopian cuisine: a brick red powder that every wot must have in order to be called a wot. The preparation of berbere begins by removing the seeds from chili peppers, drying them in the sun, grinding them into a power, and then adding small portions of garlic, ginger, sacred basil, cloves, fenugreek, cumin, cardamom and more, depending upon each chef’s recipe. The finished product has an aroma dominated by the red pepper, and you don’t need a lot of it to heat up a dish. I even use it in pasta sauces instead of crushed red peppers.