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When you think Ethiopian food, you think spice.
Berbere is Ethiopia’s main spice and the staple ingredient in every wot (stew) made here. In an earlier blog, we taught you how berbere spice is made. However, we did not share one of our favorite parts of the whole process: how peppers and other spices are dried. So here it is in a photoblog.

First, you buy large quantities of peppers from the market.

 

Berbere Peppers at Shola Market Berbere Peppers at Shola Market

 

From sacks that are taller and wider than humans!

 

Gigantic Sacks of Berbere Peppers Gigantic Sacks of Berbere Peppers

 

While these peppers have been partially dried in the countryside before coming to market, they are not yet dry enough to be ground into powder.

 

Drying Peppers on Remote Roads Drying Peppers on Remote Roads

 

So you take them home and dry them in the strong Ethiopian sun.

 

Drying Berbere Peppers Drying Berbere Peppers

 

If you don’t live in an enclosed compound, sometimes your peppers get unwanted visitors.

 

Cats and Pigeons like Berbere Too Cats and Pigeons like Berbere Too

 

Sometimes you live near a lake and dry your ingredients with a view!

 

Shiro Shiro

 

And a tortoise watches over them for you.

 

Tortoise Guarding Shiro Tortoise Guarding Shiro

 

And sometimes you dry peppers in smaller, more manageable batches several times a year.

 

Berbere Peppers Drying in our Apartment Complex Berbere Peppers Drying in our Apartment Complex

 

Shiro (Chickpea Stew) and Berbere Peppers Drying Shiro (Chickpea Stew) and Berbere Peppers Drying

 

Mitmita: Bird's Eye Chilis and Korerima (Ethiopian Cardamom) Drying. Mitmita: Bird’s Eye Chilis and Korerima (Ethiopian Cardamom) Drying.

 

Shredded Berbere Peppers Drying Shredded Berbere Peppers Drying

 

Once everything is dried, you remove the stems…

 

Removing the Stems Removing the Stems

 

…while sitting with your friends to keep you company.

 

Removing the Stems. Removing the Stems.

 

Finally, everything is ground in accordance with your secret recipe.

Ground spices are sold in markets.

 

Spices and Produce for Sale Spices and Produce for Sale

 

They’re sold in little shops, pre-packaged in bags if you don’t have the time or capacity to make spices from scratch.

 

Berbere (darkest in color), Shiro (lightest in color) Berbere (darkest in color), Shiro (lightest in color)

 

They’re eaten in stews.

 

Berbere Spice Makes This Stew the Dark Red Color Berbere Spice Makes This Stew the Dark Red Color

 

And as dipping sauces served with meat.

 

Mitmita (bright orange powder), Berbere (dark liquid), Senafich (green liquid). Mitmita (bright orange powder), Berbere (dark liquid), Senafich (green liquid).

 

We give you a little taste of one of our favorite spices with every food tour.

 

Mitmita Souvenirs Mitmita Souvenirs

 

But if a little just isn’t enough come on a market tour with us and we’ll help you buy your own!

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