Awaze, Ethiopian Spice Paste

Think hot sauce. Awaze is the Ethiopian version of hot sauce, but more like a paste. I’ve seen different styles of preparation with fresh red chilies and fresh green chilies but most common is the red paste that is also sold in most Ethiopian grocery stores. If you’ve got berebere, you can easily make your own Awaze. Tinker with the proportions until you have a consistency to your liking somewhere between thick and thin. You can use awaze on everything as seasoning. It stores well in the refrigerator for up to two months.


100 gram   berebere powder

200 ml       white wine or t’ej

100 ml       sunflower oil

Sprinkle of water to thin it out



It’s very hard to stop eating quategna. Seriously. The spicy, buttery and crispy snack is simple Ethiopian comfort food beloved by both children and mothers who can whip it up quickly over a hot fire with ingredients found in most Ethiopian kitchens. It’s reminiscent of a French Crepe but has the same savory satisfaction factor as a grilled cheese sandwich. I learned this recipe from Konjit, a woman of many talents who runs a little slice of sophistication in Addis Ababa called Asni Gallery, a café and art gallery. 

Konjit had a party at her gallery one night where she introduced a new mobile kitchen that a few artists had built for her. On the hot Metad (electric injera maker) she made the injera fresh, spreading the awaze and sprinkling the seeds on top, then folding it up hot into quarters and serving it like a French crepe.


Nit’ir Quibe (Spiced, clarified butter, see recipe archive)

Injera (pre-made are fine, or you can make them fresh, see recipe archive)

Awaze (Ethiopian spice paste, see recipe archive)


Sesame seeds

Nigella seed/Black Cumin



Heat a frying pan the size of your injera (or cut the injera to fit the pan) and add a generous dollop of Nitir Q’ibe until it melts and sizzles. Add injera and working quickly spread a spoonful of Awaze evenly over the surface, sprinkle with salt, sesame seeds and nigella seeds. Wait about a minute until the injera starts to fry around the edges then fold over like you would make an omelet. At this point it’s ready to go, but you can keep it in the frying pan until it reaches your desired crispness. From the pan, you might want to blot it before cutting it into wedges or folding in quarters.

Serve with napkins and a strong drink–sweet, bitter, fizzy or caffeinated. We love it with beer and Araki, the often-home brewed anise flavored Aperitif akin to Greek Ouzo.  There are in fact subtle Greek influences in Ethiopia going as far back as the 18th century, which are seen today in the Greek Orthodox Church, and a school in Addis Ababa that caters to the small Greek population. Bambi, the big import supermarket in Addis is also Greek owned, and many Greek products are imported like nuts, honey and feta cheese.

How to Make Injera

Every Ethiopian I know says that Injera, the tangy crepe like bread that is the foundation for most meals, is an addiction. Once it becomes part of your daily diet, it’s very hard to go without it. Usually families will make one big batch a few times a week. The Injera can stand at room temperature but must be wrapped to prevent them from drying out.

In Ethiopia, Injera is most often made with teff flour and there are over 40 different varieties still grown. Teff is a gluten free grain and it is becoming more readily available ground as flour outside Ethiopia. But Ethiopian Injera is not only made with teff. Regional variations are made with maize, sorghum, millet, barley and wheat flours. Outside Ethiopia, many Ethiopian commonly make Injera with wheat flour. Each flour lends its own flavor, so this recipe is very open for experimentation.

This is a basic recipe for teff Injera using an open ferment- meaning that it captures the wild yeasts and bacteria in the air. Plan for the process to take about three days. Possibly shorter if the weather is very warm. You can speed up the process by adding a pinch of yeast.


Teff Flour             1 ½ Cups

Salt                            Pinch

Water                      2 Cups

Yeast                        Optional

Cooking Oil          For greasing the pan


Ethiopians use a mitad which is essentially a large frying pan with cover

Make a batter by mixing together flour, salt and water in a large bowl. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Stir gently a few times each day. After two days the mixture should start to bubble- if it’s not, add a pinch of yeast. When it’s good and bubbly and has a fermented aroma, usually in three days time, it’s ready. The batter should be thick and pour-able. You can add more water if you need to thin it.

To make the Injera. Prepare the biggest frying pan you have, by heating it and spreading a thin layer of cooking oil on the surface with a cloth or brush. Using a cup, pour the batter in a circle around the circumference of the pan spiraling inward and tilting the pan to spread it thin (like you would make a crepe.) Then, quickly put a cover on the pan. I use an inverted bowl. Ideally you want something with a dome to capture the steam, which helps cook the top surface. In Ethiopia a special electric pan called a Mit’tat is used. But you can do it just fine without one. After about 2-3 minutes carefully lift the cover (it will be hot) and check the Injera. It should have bubbles formed all over the surface. When the batter is cooked through, carefully peel the Injera off the pan and stack on a clean plate covering with a damp towel. Continue until all the batter is used up. Keep the Injera stacked, and covered with plastic. They will last up to three days, the flavor getting stronger each day.

How to Make Te’j

Te’j Bet / Te’j House in Lalibela

I love thy tangy sweetness and ancient power that transforms honey, the sweet soul of the flower into an elixir to sweeten the soul of man. Your magic has seduced me.

I’ve successfully made Te’j using two different methods. Open fermentation is most common in Ethiopia, which is the most ancient and basic format. It is essentially using an open vessel to create an inviting feast of sweetness that attracts wild yeast. It’s actually very simple and takes two to three weeks. The second variation introduces a glassballon and airlock after a short period of open fermentation. The air lock limits the amount of air in contact with the te’j while also letting gasses escape while the yeast slowly eat the sugars and convert them to alcohol. I found this method takes longer, but yields a sweeter, lighter taste with slight bubbles.

The recipe is pretty basic using honey and water, but what distinguishes te’j from other honey wines like mead is that it is also made with gesho (Rhamnus prinoides) known as  ‘Ethiopian hops.’ Unlike the herbaceous hops plant used to make beer, gesho is a woody twig with thin brown bark of African origin. It imparts a bitter quality to the te’j and adds a depth flavor that makes it uniquely Ethiopian.


Liquid Honey- 1 Kilo (darker honey will make more intense Te’j)

Broken Gesho- 300-400 grams

Water- 3 Litre

Equipment (optional)

Glass balloon


Big container with wide-mouth

Cotton cloth

Method 1- Using Open Ferment- About three weeks

This method was explained to me by the honey vendors at Mercato in Addis Ababa. Mix honey and water, let sit in open container covered with cloth for three days (filter if there is residue in your honey.) Add Gesho and cover tightly. Let it sit in a warm place for about one week. Open every 2-3 days and stir with a dry stick. Do not let water get into the container. It’s ok if it gets moldy.  When you can see it fermenting (in other words, bubbles form and fermented odor) strain out the gesho. Return to container, cover tightly and continue to ferment.  After about 20 days it should be fully fermented. The longer it sits, it will get more alcoholic and a stronger taste.

Method 2- Using Glassballon and Airlock- About one month or longer

This method is a hybrid that I developed using different techniques. Mix honey and water, let sit in open container covered with cloth for three days (filter if there is residue in your honey.) Add Gesho and cover tightly. Let it sit in a warm place for about one week. Open every 2-3 days and stir with a dry stick. Do not let water get into the container. It’s ok if it gets moldy.  When you can see it fermenting (in other words, bubbles and fermented odor) strain out the gesho. Pour into the glass ballon and fasten airlock. Let it sit for four weeks in warm place. After this time, you can test it to see how the flavor has developed. If you like it bottle it in clean glass bottles with flip lids and store in the refrigerator. It will also age, getting more alcoholic in the refrigerator, but slowly. Or if you want it to be stronger, faster, return it to the glass ballon with airlock. But remember, once the air comes into contact with it, the fermentation process will speed-up so it’s best to keep it air tight as best as you can.

Supplies (in Berlin)

Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant sold me about 500g of Gesho for $10

Glassballon & airlock at Gläser und Flaschen GmbH

Spicy Sexy Teff Bread Recipe

This bread is habit forming. See earlier post on Spicy Sexy Teff Bread for details.


Yeast                                20 g, appx. half a block of fresh yeast or 2 Tbl. of dried yeast
Teff flour                         400 g. teff flour or 3 cups
White wheat flour        100 g. white wheat flour or 1 cup
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar
Bishop’s weed/Ajwan     20 g. or 1/8 cup
Butter                               100 g. or 1/2 cup

Awaze, Ethiopian Spice paste (see separate post in recipes)


Mix yeast in a cup of warm water until it dissolves. In a big bowl, mix teff & wheat flours with salt and sugar. Add yeasted water and enough warm water until a soft moist dough is formed. Knead until uniform. Cover and let it rise in a quiet spot for 2 hours.

Meanwhile make the spice paste. Mix berebere powder with salt, white wine, and oil. Set aside. Melt butter and set aside.

After dough has risen, punch it down until it is uniform and divide into three equal parts. On a clean dry surface, pat or roll out each dough ball into a rectangular shape about 5 cm thick. Spread spice paste evenly over the surface. Roll each rectangle up lengthwise. Place on a baking sheet & spread melted butter evenly over each loaf. Preheat oven to 200°C or 350°F while the loaves rise for about 30 minutes. They will swell and crack, so be sure to give enough room on the baking sheet.

Bake for approximately half hour or longer until they are browned with a good solid crust. Cool and eat by tearing off chunks. Goes nicely with honey.

*see post on berebere and Ethiopian spices

Ethiopian Spiced Butter, Nit’ir Quibe Recipe

Ethiopian spiced butter is the building block for most non-fasting recipes (fasting foods do not include any animal products.) Like ghee, Indian clarified butter, it stores well in the refrigerator. The recipe can be doubled easily. So, if you’re going through the trouble, it makes sense to make a large batch at one time. It’s also worth noting that recipes vary from family to family so you can play around with the quantities and omit anything you don’t like or can’t find.

1 kilo (2 lbs.)  Fresh unsalted butter
200 gm (3/4 cup)  Fresh ginger, chopped
4 large  Cloves garlic, diced
1 large  Red onion or 3-4 red shallots, diced
1 tbs  Fenugreek seeds
2 tsp.  False Cardamom (Grain of Paradise)
3 tsp.  Sacred Basil, (Thai basil) can be fresh or dried
1 tsp.  Cardamom Seeds
½ tsp.  Ground Turmeric

*see page on Ethiopian spices for spice overview

Prepare all the ingredients: chop the ginger, garlic and onion, mix the spices together in a bowl. Depending on how you find the spices, you might have a mixture of pre-ground and whole spices. This is fine. If you have a spice grinder, you can give the spices a go or two so they are homogeneously ground, but you don’t want them get them too fine otherwise you’ll never be able to separate them from the butter. It’s also fine if you add them all whole.

Add the butter to a large pan and melt gently over medium heat, as you would make ghee. Be careful so it doesn’t boil. When the white milk solids separate from the clear butter add the spices, ginger, garlic and onion. Turn heat to medium-low and and stir constantly for 15-20 minutes, being careful not to burn anything.

Line a strainer with a thin cotton cloth like muslin and place over a glass or ceramic storage container. Pour the butter mixture through straining out the solids. Wait for it to cool and solidify. Store in the refrigerator.

Spiced butter is used as the foundation for most Ethiopian stews, but it tastes great for frying eggs, breads, and with vegetables.