jump to navigation

Za’atar July 12, 2008

Posted by pcorcoran in African, Recipe, Spices.
add a comment

4 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. dried thyme
4 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. dried sumac

Heat sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until aromatic.  Let cool.  Combine sesame seeds with dried herbs and grind in a mortar and pestle.

Time to Prepare: 5 minutes

Difficulty: 1/10


Za’atar is a spice blend common in Northern Africa and the Middle East.  It is used in cooking and as a table condiment.


Berbere Seasoning April 10, 2008

Posted by pcorcoran in African, Recipe, Spices.
add a comment

2 tsp. cumin seed
4 whole cloves
3/4 tsp. cardamom seed
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1/4 tsp. whole allspice
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
Small dried chili peppers, to taste*
1 tsp. ginger powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
2 1/2 tbsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
Cayenne pepper, to taste*

Toast whole spices in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning or excessive smoking.  Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.  Add dried chili peppers, stems removed, if desired.  Grind finely in a spice grinder (or mortar-and-pestle).  Remove larger pieces of cardamom husk, if any.

Transfer to small mixing bowl.  Add remaining powdered spices.  Cool to room temperature.  Store in sealed spice container for up to 6 months.

Time to prepare: 15 minutes

Difficulty: 1/10

Yields: Approximately one standard supermarket spice container’s worth of powdered seasoning.


Berbere seasoning is an essential component of many East African dishes.  Much like Indian Curry seasonings, every chef has their own preferred blend.  The specific ingredients and quantities can vary quite a bit.  You can’t really go wrong here, so feel free to adjust or omit ingredients to suit your fancy.

*Berbere is often spicy.  Add up to 10 chili peppers to the grind mix, and add up to 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper to the powders.  If you would rather err on the side of less spicy, omit these ingredients and tailor the spice level of the mixture later.