American-style Berbere Spice Mix

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  12 tablespoons
Prep Time:  10 minutes Cook Time:  0 minutes

American-style Berbere Spice Mix

This traditional Ethiopian spice mixture is rich in a variety of hot peppers that are found in Africa. In the United States, most of us don’t have access to the indigenous red peppers that make up the bulk of “real” berbere, but those special Ethiopian peppers, with their smoky and hot taste profile, can be grown in planters, and seeds can be found online. This American version is a smoky, peppery, hot spice mixture that will tantalize your taste buds.


2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon white peppercorns

6 green cardamom pods, seeds removed (see Kitchen Tip)

½ teaspoon powdered dried ginger

5 cloves

1 teaspoon ajwain seeds

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

¼ cup hot Hungarian paprika

2 dried chiles d’arbol



  1. Combine the coriander, fenugreek, peppercorns, cardamom, ginger, cloves, ajwain, nigella, paprika, and chilies in a spice grinder or coffee grinder dedicated to spices and grind to fine powder. Keep tightly sealed in a glass container in a cool, dark spot for up to 6 months.

Kitchen Tips

  1. To remove the seeds from cardamom pods, place the pods on a cutting board. Using the flat side of a large chef’s knife, (being careful not to have the blade face you), gently press on the pods. The seeds will start popping out. Gather up the tiny seeds to use in your recipe. You can grind them in a spice grinder or a perfectly clean coffee grinder. If your recipe calls for it, reserve the husks for infusing liquids such as teas and sauces.

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