An Easy and Delicious Ethiopian Meal

The Goal: Warm, flavorful and tender Ethiopian beef tibs, with a berbere spice mix.

The Sources:

Berbere Spice Mix

Beef Tibs


Greetings, people who like good food!

This week, I have decided to share something a little different. My brother Nick and I are currently engaged in a very exciting neck-and-neck sourdough bread-making competition, but it has been taking ages for me to see any sort of progress with my sourdough starter. Though of course Nick’s is looking gorgeous. *mutter mutter scowl* More details on that once we manage to complete it.

In the meantime though, please enjoy this pair of easy and delicious Ethiopian recipes. They are not nearly as time consuming or difficult as some of the other recipes I’ve shared, so maybe you’ll want to try it yourself!


Berbere Spice Mix

This easy and well rounded spice mix is best made in larger quantities, as it keeps very well and can be used in a variety of recipes. It requires what may seem like an overwhelming number of different types of spices and flavors, but can be used as a rub on meat, as a flavoring in gravies, as an added spice on roasted veggies, or any number of other uses. It’s a component of all my absolute favorite Ethiopian dishes. I personally have been using it in sauteed spinach, baked chicken, and roasted potatoes. It gives a luscious pop of warm, rounded flavor. 

I did make some changes to the recipe based on personal taste, and spice availability. Firstly I increased all the quantities so I could have a larger batch of spice that would last longer. I left out the fenugreek and instead added like quantities of cumin and turmeric. I have seen many different berbere recipes, and none are exactly the same! Don’t be afraid to experiment, and add or subtract different spices. 



The Recipe: 

  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/2 cup ground dried New Mexico chiles
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Finely grind fenugreek seeds in an electric coffee/spice grinder. Stir together with remaining ingredients until combined well.


Beef Tibs

I have made beef tibs before successfully, and it’s actually not that difficult or exotic in preparation. The end result, however, is stunning. This recipe uses the berbere spice mix. I also roasted some broccoli and cauliflower to serve with it, which is not exactly traditional, but hey! Still delicious. 

The recipe starts with “niter kibbeh,” a spiced browned butter, though I just used plain butter and it came out delicious. I added in the onions, ginger, garlic, and spices, and let them bubble away until sweet and soft.

Onions, garlic, ginger, and spices.

I kept them chunky in this case because as soon as they were finished cooking, I immediately pureed them into a smooth sauce-like mixture.

Pureed berbere spice and onion sauce.

The next step was chunking up my beef sirloin. The small cubes of meat cook quickly, but are also very easy to overcook. You really want them just browned and still tender, so be careful!

Sizzling beef chunks.

Once the beef was perfectly cooked, I tossed it into the bowl with my warm spicy sauce. I am hesitant to admit, but I promised I’d be honest… I didn’t have time to knock up a whole enormous batch of Injera to serve it with, so I just whipped up some savory crepes and served it atop those.

And may I just say… It worked. I loved it. It was absolutely delicious. I hope you give this one a go!


The Recipe: 

  • 5 tablespoons niter kibbeh, or plain unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped medium (about 2 cups)
  • 3 inch knob ginger, minced, about 2 tablespoons
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced, about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons berbere (see note above)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound beef sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes, trimmed of excess fat and connective tissue
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
  1. Melt niter kibbeh or butter in a heavy saucepan on medium heat, then add onions, ginger, garlic, and berbere. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are dark, ruddy, and golden, about 30 minutes. Onions should be at a low sizzle during cooking process. Adjust heat accordingly. Transfer to food processor and blend until not quite a purée. Return to saucepan, season to taste with salt, and keep warm.

  2. Season beef on all sides generously with kosher salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat high until lightly smoking. Add beef in a single layer, leaving plenty of open space in the pan (brown in batches if you don’t have a large enough skillet). Cook without moving until well-seared on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip meat cubes with tongs and cook on second side until well seared. Continue to cook meat, stirring and flipping occasionally until desired level of doneness is reached. For rare meat, transfer to saucepan immediately. For medium, cook an additional one to two minutes before transferring to saucepan. For well done, cook up to five more minutes before transferring to saucepan.

  3. Toss beef with warm sauce, stir in lemon juice, and serve immediately.

4 thoughts on “An Easy and Delicious Ethiopian Meal

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