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long pepper versus chili pepper[edit]

What is the relative importance of long pepper (or its substitute, black pepper) and chili pepper? The recipes linked include both, but I'm not sure I trust them as they seem pretty Westernized (that is, only calling for ingredients which are easy to find in the West). It might be a bit tricky to figure out just what we should say (I'm sure berbere recipes vary and it can be hard to find sources which document what is done various places). Kingdon 15:45, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

There are three kinds of pepper used in berbere: chile (red) pepper, white pepper, and black pepper (based on my own observations of the preparation of a couple of batches). The first is used in much larger proportion to the other two. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 20:47, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
See below regarding white and black pepper. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 17:31, 28 January 2013 (UTC)


Is there a source for the list of ingredients? I've heard some of these by their Amharic names (original research, of course) but I am not sure those correspond to these English-name ingredients. When I get around to it I can upload some pictures of the raw ingredients (e.g. to Commons) in hopes that someone might better identify them (for one thing, what I had assumed to be large cardamom pods are probably something different, but they certainly don't seem like anything in the current list). Thanx, -- Gyrofrog (talk) 20:33, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Update: It seems the ingredient list is based on a berbere product made in the UK with available ingredients ([1]). I've uploaded some pictures of the ingredients as used in Ethiopia, with some explanations (at least, as provided to me). See commons:User:Gyrofrog/Ethiopia_January_2010#Berbere. (I think kororima (which I thought might be cardamom) could actually be Aframomum melegueta.) -- Gyrofrog (talk) 02:29, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Another update: it's korarima, and I've started a short article, Aframomum corrorima‎. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 23:47, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

I find the phrase "also mistakenly known as Bishop's Weed" misleading - the article suggests that the proper spice is ajwain, but the ajwain article states that it is mainly grown is asia, whereas Bishops's Weed (Ammi_majus) originated in the Nile river valley. From a strictly geographic perspective, it would be bizarre for a critical ingredient of Ethiopian cuisine to call for a spice that is of distant origin but is strikingly similar to an endemic local plant. I'd suggest that Bishop's weed is the correct ingredient, and that recipes calling for ajwain are likely to be mistaken or substitutions from outside Ethiopia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:35, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure if Bishop's weed or ajwain are correct. See my previous comments -- the only ingredient I was unable to identify (in English) is something called "abesh". It may or may not be related to ajwain/Bishop's weed. (Or it may be fenugreek, according to that article.) In any case, I agree with the points you've raised. Thanks, -- Gyrofrog (talk) 00:07, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

The following is an ingredient list from an Ethiopian cookbook, targeted toward Ethiopians (as opposed to an Ethiopian cookbook targeted toward other countries, where other ingredients would be more readily available). I would consider this to be more definitive than recipes from Western sources. (Transliterations are approximate.) -- Gyrofrog (talk) 16:16, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

Yebahalawie Megaboch Azegejajet (Traditional Food Preparation)
by Debrawork Abate, Sous Chef
Mega Asatame Derjet (Mega Publisher Enterprise)
Published 1993 (2000/2001); 2nd edition 1995 (2002/2003)


  • 20 kg berbere (red pepper)
  • 3 kg netch shenkort (garlic)
  • 2 kg zinjebel (ginger root)
  • 5 yabuna sini (5 small cups, literally "coffee cups") dereka besobila (dried basil [2])
  • 5 yabuna sini (5 small cups), or .25 kg, dimbelal (probably coriander)
  • 5 yabuna sini (5 small cups), or .25 kg, netch azmud (white pepper)
  • 5 yabuna sini (5 small cups), or .25 kg, tekoor azmud (black pepper)
  • 1 kg tchew(ጨው; salt)
  • 1 kg bedemp (well-cooked) takaklo (boiled) yedereka (dried) abesh (fenugreek [3])
  • .25 kg tena adam (rue; Ruta chalepensis [4][5])
  • 1 kg korarima (Aframomum corrorima)
  • 1 kg kai shenkort (red onion)
  • .5 kg gomen zer (mustard seed) or wayem noog (niger seed [6])

The last two are not commonly included; the final ingredient serves to give the berbere an oily texture and milder flavor, and acts as a preservative.


Both netch azmud ("white pepper") and tekoor azmud ("black pepper") are both some kind of seeds – strictly speaking, I'm not sure either is really "pepper." I am told that:

  1. What we call chili peppers, such as the main ingredient in berbere, is itself called "berbere" (not "azmud" in spite of that translating as "pepper") – but this is suggested in the above ingredient list; and
  2. since netch azmud (white pepper) is hard to obtain in the US, ajwain seed is commonly substituted. The ajwain does taste like the seasoning in niter kibbeh, FWIW. This could be coincidental, but compare the word "azmud" with "ajumd" (i.e. radhuni), for which ajwain is also used as a substitute (and, evidently, also for celery seed).

-- Gyrofrog (talk) 17:52, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

And apparently, they are not seeds either, but dried fruits that (really) look like seeds. See And according to this source, ajwain is netch azmud, and nigella is tqur azmud. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 16:30, 25 September 2012 (UTC)


What is the etymology of "berbere?" Is it possibly a reference to either Berber people or Berbera? -- Gyrofrog (talk) 20:38, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Types of Berbere Paste[edit]

Does anyone know the different types of berbere? I asked a friend at an Eritrean restaurant and he said the kind he used was berbere dillok, or atleast that's what it sounded like. --Nessie (talk) 20:43, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure, but I can ask. Note that berbere is prepared as a powdered mixture, although I suppose one could make a paste out of it (like mitmita is used to make awaze). -- Gyrofrog (talk) 21:08, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

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