Tej, korarima (cardamom), berbere (spice blend) and shiro (chickpea powder).

From left to right: Tej (honey wine), korarima (cardamom), berbere (spice blend) and shiro (chickpea powder).

Kick-start your engines, ladies and gentlemen. Stock your pantries for the basics of Ethiopian cooking, and soon you’ll be rotating these dishes into your weeknight menu just as you do with spaghetti, tacos, and stir-fry.

First step: Throw away your measuring cups. 
Admit it; we have over-engineered the art of cooking. Although I’ll attempt to share measurements to guide you in accomplishing a basic dish, it’s truly unnecessary.

Second step: Stock up on spices and specialty goods. 
If you don’t have access to a mother-in-law to provide you with homemade spices, try making your own or purchasing from an international market. Here are a few of the basics:

  • Berbere (Ethiopian spice blend)
  • Korarima (cardamom powder)
  • Shiro (chickpea power)
  • Injera  (Ethiopian flat bread)
  • Kibbeh (clarified spice butter)
  • Mitmita (chili powder spice blend) – optional

Third step: Collect a few things at your regular grocery store.
Once you have the specialty items, the other ingredients can be bought during your regular grocery visits. These include the overly extraordinary:

  • Red onions
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Cans of tomato sauce

For certain dishes, you’ll need:

  • Red lentils
  • Collards or kale
  • Meat or fish

Fourth step: Let your fancy kitchen equipment collect dust.
So long as you have a stove pot and a knife with cutting board, you’ll be in good shape. If you’re not skilled at dicing onions, use a food processor or blender.

Let the adventure begin!

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Interesting blog. I am marketing locally some of our foods http://bluenilejp.com/marathon-foods/ I would be interested in your thoughts


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About Ashley Saw the World

Ashley grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. She studied the liberal arts and law, and enjoys writing, painting and cooking. She is married into an Ethiopian family and dedicates this blog to sharing their story.