Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Berbere - the hot, flavorful heart of Ethiopian cuisine

My new spice blend is anything but new.

Forget what you think of "salt and pepper" - this creation's a blast from the past!

Ancient in it's ingredients and long revered for it's healing properties, Berbere is what you might call the national spice blend of Ethiopia - the motherland of human life . . . so far, anyhow! :o)

As crucial to Ethiopian cuisine as Kari is to Indian, Berbere has the lovely privilege of varying from home to home, kitchen to kitchen, as every cook seeks the divine marriage of flavor and the extraordinary.

Berbere's heat is bright and quick, but kept level by the sea salt in it's base. It's almost warmed by it, even when your tongue is on fire!

Traditional Berbere is not a toasted spice blend. You do not load a pan with ingredients, fire it and then grind it down; rather, the ingredients are thoroughly dried, usually in the sun, and then hand ground to a delicate powder.

Spice is the life force of food. It changes our experience radically, whether it is hot or not. But sometimes heat is the transformative force we need to feel alive. That is why I made Berbere. For the truly ancient ones and for the heat which surprise and rejuvinates all in one!

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