Medieval Ethiopians didn't have fridges, so they made Berbere as a dry powder for storage. We do have fridges, so we're gonna make a fresh paste instead.
First do the chiles. Rinse 'em in a colander, then soak 'em in hot water for one hour. Make sure you weigh them down so all those ladies can skinny dip together!
Just like so.
Here's a note about those little red chiles. If you use them often in your cooking (and I do) then you should know NEVER to buy them at the Anglo grocery store. Ideally, find a Latin or Asian store.
At the Anglo store you get a little jar for several dollars (because they are 'exotic'). At the Latin store you get a giant bag for about the same price (because here they are a daily staple).
High turnover equals good prices. The same thing is true for soy sauce, fish sauce, fresh herbs, fish and meat, for all of which you will overpay at the Anglo store. Go to the nonwhite places instead!
Okay, back to cooking. Get all those dry spices together. The original version calls for all this stuff to be toasted whole & fresh-ground. If you have the whole spices, go for it. But this is OK.
Do you smell that fenugreek? Fenugreek powder is one of the key ingredients in artificial maple flavoring. Betcha didn't know that!
Then chop the aromatics. If you are following me, you should know by now that I never measure garlic, ginger and onions! You need about this much, but it won't kill you to use more or less. Whatever.
Now you need fresh herbs. This is ordinary sweet basil, which I use for pretty much all my recipes. It grows like crazy and you can keep using it all summer as long as you pinch off the flower buds.
Now check this out. This is spicy globe basil, which I'm growing for the first time this year. I'm gonna add a few stems of this because it smells amazing.
If you made mojitos with me in a previous guide, you know about the kinds of mint I'm growing. We're gonna use the spearmint today because it's getting too damn big.
The onion, garlic and ginger go in a saucepan with the water. You're gonna boil 'em for five minutes.
Okay, those chiles have soaked for an hour, so drain 'em and dump 'em in the food processor. This cute little 3 cup model was $29.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond. Nice, huh?
We need to talk about safety now, cutie! I'm not one of those people who put on latex gloves to chop a jalapeño, but you have a lot of chiles in this prep so you better take it seriously.
From the moment you drain those chiles until you are totally done, don't touch ANYTHING but your equipment. Don't rub your eyes, don't scratch your balls, don't hold hands with your sweetie.
When you're all done, you're gonna wash your hands like you're about to operate. I mean really scrub, and do it a couple times. Now back to cooking!
Process those chiles numerous times until they are about as shredded as they're gonna get.
Then dump in the dry spices (don't forget the salt!)...
...followed by the saucepan with the aromatics and the water you boiled 'em in.
That's gonna give you enough liquid in the processor to make this pretty smooth. Process it several more times until it starts to look smooth.
Then cram in the mint and basil and repeat! Process the hell out of that. Get it as smooth as you can.
Pot it up and put it in the fridge. Smell how fresh that is! Believe it or not, it'll still smell that good after 3 months in the back of the fridge. Now let's make some veggie stew in the next guide!
- 1.0c Little dried red chiles
- 1/8tsp Ground Cardamom
- 1/8tsp Ground Fenugreek
- 1/8tsp Ground coriander
- 1/4tsp Black pepper
- A good pinch of cinnamon
- SCANT half tsp of salt
- Half a SMALL onion
- 1/4c Water
- 1/4c Packed basil
- 1/4c Packed mint
- Saucepan, food processor, and tupperware container
Wake Forest, North Carolina