One of the many things I enjoy about Food Chain is trying new foods and new recipes, a curiosity that is shared by all the volunteers who last more than one shift. It's interesting to taste new dishes and combinations, to find dishes I've never heard of or eaten. One of the sites I frequent for inspiration is http://www.congocookbook.com/ which is a rich source of African recipes and information. I spent a delighted hour or more reading the first time I found it and I have visited many times since and learned a lot in the process. It's where the spice mix came from for this deeply aromatic and hot beef stew, a completely different kind of hot to Asian or Indian cuisine, quite complex and warming.
Berberé (pronounced 'ber-beray') is an Ethiopian spice mixture that is the flavoring foundation of Ethiopian cuisine, a basic ingredient in Dabo Kolo, Doro Wat, and many other dishes. It's traditionally made from a cupboard-full of herbs and spices, fresh-ground, pan-roasted and then packed into jars for storage. Among Ethiopian cooks there are many variations of which spices and what amounts but basic berberé is made by combining roughly equal amounts of allspice, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, and salt with a much larger amount of hot red (cayenne) pepper. The combination of fenugreek and red pepper is essential to berberé; while one or two of the other ingredients may be left out, the fenugreek and red pepper are must-haves. Milder berberé can be made by substituting paprika for some or most of the red pepper. Berberé is sometimes made as a dry spice mix, and is sometimes made with oil or water to form a paste
I made this one mixing ready ground spices then cooking it gently till aromatic. These quantities makes more than you need for this recipe but it keeps well in an airtight jar.
500g stewing beef, in cubes
3 tbspns vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can tomatoes, with liquid
fresh coriander chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon salt
5 tablespoons ground cayenne or chilli pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
For the berberé, combine the spices and roast in a dry skillet on low to moderate heat, stirring constantly, for about 5-10 minutes, or until roasted. Don't let them burn. Keep in a tight jar.
For the stew, fry the meat on high heat until brown, then add the onion, and eventually the garlic and 2 tbsp Berbere, which are NOT to become burnt.
Add the tomatoes with their liquid and boil slowly until the meat is tender and the stew has thickened, about an hour.
Garnish with coriander and serve hot on rice.
This made plenty for four servings with rice and spicy plantains but, like all stews, is better next day.