When Jedd gave me a new coffee grinder for Christmas last year I was confused. I’m more of a “drink Earl Gray until I twitch” kind of hot beverage lover. But when he told me that it was to play around with to make my own homemade spice blends, I was thrilled. And berbere was one of the first things I played with.
Berbere is a traditional African spice that is spicy but complex. It won’t necessarily make you sob – but it has just enough heat to let you know that you’re alive. And in this chicken and lentil stew, the berbere brings earthiness and a little fire to a stew that’s simple enough to make on a work night.
Homemade Berbere Spice
1 teaspoon of allspice
3 teaspoons of cardamom pods
4 fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of turmeric
4 teaspoons of cayenne
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
Lightly toast the cardamom pods, cloves and fenugreek seeds in a dry frying pan on low heat until they become fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Set aside and let cool for a couple of minutes. Then grind all of the ingredients in a spice grinder until smooth.
African Chicken Stew with Lentils and Kale
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
Salt and pepper
1 cup of cooked chicken
1 ½ tablespoons of the berbere spice
1 small can of diced tomatoes
½ cup of green lentils
2 cups of hot chicken stock or broth
1 cup of diced chicory or kale
In a large pot saute the onion and carrots until soft, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the chicken, berbere, tomatoes and hot stock stir well and bring to a boil. Add the lentils, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are done. Add the chicory and let it soften, about 3 minutes.