Berlin Cuisine | Ethiopian pumpkin stew with Berbere spice mix & book tip

Before I cooked this stew, Ethiopian cuisine was something completely new to me. And even now I’m far from an expert, but I know one thing: I want more of it. The Berbere spice mixture tastes spicy, very aromatic and turns the simple pumpkin stew into a very nice explosion of flavour. As a side dish, you would traditionally reach Injera, a pancake-like soured flatbread. Less authentic, but also delicious and easier for most to get your hands on is a Lavash. (And if we’re already at Lavash, you can add an inauthentic but delicious blob of yoghurt.)

Berbere, Injera, Ajowan seeds, Besobela – that’s only a fraction of the unknown ingredients I came across in Yohani’s Gebreyesus “Ethiopia”. It begins with a brief introduction to the history of Ethiopian cuisine. There are, for example, a lot of vegetarian dishes on the menu, which has to do with the development of Christianity in the country: During the long fasting times, meat was simply not allowed to be eaten. Today, a third of the population is Muslim, which is particularly noticeable in the form of desserts such as halva. In addition, the size of the country alone plays a role. Ethiopia is one of the largest countries in Africa and the different geographical conditions and the different ethnic groups each contribute their part to the diversity of cuisine. Admittedly, it’s hard for me to describe them – where to start? Perhaps at Teff, the most cultivated grain in Ethiopia. It is used to prepare the already mentioned Injera, the main food of many people. It is also used as a plate to serve the dishes on it. Then there are the spices and spice mixtures, which are not used too scarcely and which make the food so aromatic. This includes Berebere, which is used in many dishes and traditionally takes several days to produce. Or Kulet, a mixture of onions, garlic and ginger that forms the basis of many simmering dishes. A few sample dishes across the chapters: chickpeas with spicy flaxseed sauce, potatoes baked with smoked milk, chicken with oranges in Tej sauce, green coffee beans roasted in butter. The latter are nibbled like nuts as a snack. For me, it all sounds new, exciting and delicious and I will certainly cook some recipes from “Ethiopia”. It was sent to me by Knesebeck Verlag as a review copy.


For the spice mixture:
50 g dried chillies (medium-sharp)
2 tsp dried onions
1 tsp dried garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp black cumin
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Ajowan seeds (alternatively 1/4 tsp dried thyme and 1/4 cumin seeds)
(1/4 tsp dried besobela if possible)

For the stew:
500 g pumpkin (seeded and peeled if necessary)
250 ml water
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp Berbere
3 cardamom capsules
Rapeseed oil


First, prepare the Berbere spice mixture. Put the black cumin, cloves and, if necessary, the Ajowan seeds in a small pan and toast over a medium heat until they smell intense. Together with the other spices, put in a spice mill and grind everything into a fine powder. If there is no spice mill, it can also be done with the mortar, preferably one after the other in smaller portions.

For the stew, cut the onions into fine cubes, finely chop the garlic and press the cardamom capsules. Cut the pumpkin into larger cubes. Put the onions in a saucepan over a low to medium heat until glassy. Then add the garlic, cardamom and berbere to the onions and stir. Place the lid on the pot and cook everything for about ten minutes. Stir again and again and, if the mixture starts on the bottom of the pot, add some water.

Then add the pumpkin cubes and pour over the 250 ml of water. Bring to the boil briefly, then simmer at medium temperature with the pot lid tipped for about 25 minutes. The pumpkin should be very soft at the end and much of the liquid should be boiled.

A year ago: Stew with miso, chinese cabbage and spicy minced meat
Two years ago: Poached chicken breast fillet, chickpeas and pumpkin with yoghurt tahini sauce
Three years ago: Polenta with roasted grapes and tomatoes, Parmesan and Parma ham
Four years ago: Chai cake with orange honey cream
Five years ago: Dulce de leche from the oven
Six years ago: Carrot soup with quinoa
Seven years ago: Tarte au citron
Eight years ago: Millet pan with spinach, dates and feta

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