We’re calling it right now – 2018 is gonna be the year of Berbere.
Last year it was Tograshi, the year before Sumac. The year before that I don’t know, no one remembers anything from 2015 — it was just too long ago and I didn’t have Instagram back then.
Berbere is this magical spice — originally from Ethiopia, popularized by Marcus Samulesson, and beloved by all who have tasted it’s seductive heat. There is SO. MUCH. FLAVOR. The slow burn from chiles, the bite of pepper and ginger, savory sweetness from allspice, cardamom, cinnamon. It’s mad good, Fellas.
So what does one do with this tasty blend? Rub it on chicken! Spice up yo’ eggs! Get fan-cay with some fried rice or roasted veg. Sprinkle it on fries, make a compound butter and go extra wild with biscuits. Basically the moral of the story is you can’t go wrong. And when you make something delicious — lemme know so I can add it to the list.
There are endless recipe blends for Berbere and you can also buy it online. Surely there is a Grandmother out there secretly guarding the very best one. But I’m a fan of this number because there’s nothing that I don’t already have as a pantry spice staple. Except for maybe dried onion flakes. But all is not lost you could sub 2TB each garlic and onion powder. (Which yes equals 1/4 cup but the powder is much more potent than flakes).
So try this out and when you are with your hipster friends at that trendy gastropub and there’s berbere all over the place you can explain to them what it is and that it’s the official spice of 2018.
- 1/2 cup dried Onion Flakes divided
- 3 TB Pimento good quality
- 1 TB Coriander Seeds
- 1 TB Kosher Salt
- 2 tsp Fennel Seeds (if you don't love fennel, cut it in half)
- 1 tsp ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Nigella seeds optional
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper (whole)
- 1/2 tsp Pink Peppercorns (if you don't have it, just use black pepper)
- 1/2 tsp fresh Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp dried Turmeric
- 5 whole Allspice Berries
- 5 Cardamom pods
- 2-4 small dried red Thai Chiles depending on your heat level... may sub other dried pepper
Take all the "whole" items, like pods and seeds and peppercorns and toast in small skillet over medium high heat til fragrant. About 4-5 minutes. Let cool.
In a spice grinder grind everything except half the onion flakes, nigella and salt. Depending on the size of your grinder it might take a few turns.
If you want a more coarse texture and an intense arm workout by all means go for the mortar and pestle (in that case take out the cardamom seeds from the pods, discarding the pods, along with anything else too fibrous to break down).
Once everything is ground down, mix in the rest of the onion flakes, nigella and salt. Taste and add more salt if needed. If you want it spicier, throw in some cayenne. That's it, you're done. Congratulations, you made your very own awesome turbo-packed spice mix.
Originally adapted from Marcus Samuelsson.