If you’ve got your Niter Kibbeh all ready to go, what you need now is your spice blend. You can buy Berbere already made at Ethiopian groceries, as either a dry spice blend or a paste. Or you can make your own and make your kitchen smell divine.
The Niter Kibbeh is a spiced oil, but not spicy. So it’s great for making the milder stews, the allecha dishes. But this Berbere Paste is totally necessary if you want a spicy stew, called a w’et. Part of the joy of Ethiopian food is having a plate with both mild allecha stews and hot & spicy w’et stews.
I can see myself using this spice paste in all sorts of other recipes: grain & veggie bowls, soups, stirfries, and anywhere I need a little zip. I think I’m going to have to make sure I have a batch on hand at all times. Because then I can have almost-instant Ethiopian food — just add your lentils or veggies, an onion, some garlic, and your niter kibbeh, and you have a tasty w’et (spicy stew).
The spicy heat comes from one of my favourites: cayenne. And whenever you put paprika and cayenne together, my tastebuds are gloriously happy.
In fact, the berbere paste was so darn tasty that I decided to serve a little blob of it with my Ethiopian dinner platter. And both of us needed seconds. We used it as a condiment to spice up the other dishes — dipping a piece of the injera into it before using the injera to scoop up the stews. But tread carefully — all that cayenne makes it quite hot! And like me, you may well find yourself with a new hot sauce addiction!
Please note, Kittee has asked me to remove my adaptations of her recipes from my blog, and I am respectfully doing so. I adapted her berbere paste (hot spice blend) from Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food.