African Spices Sure to Delight Any Foodie

Playing with spices and exploring endless ways to blend them for unique flavors are some of the most enjoyable parts of cooking. Many spices are popular in more than one country. However, one of the things that makes an area’s cuisine enticingly unique is the specific way a culture blends spices – even familiar ones – to create the memorable flavors people come to know and love.

One example of this is a wonderful blend of spices often used in Ethiopia and other locations in East Africa. This blend, Berbere Spice Mixture, contains a variety of bold flavors including nutmeg, cloves, dried red chilis, black peppercorns, salt, cardamom, allspice, cumin, fenugreek, coriander, ginger (achieved through the use of Advanced Biotech’s Organic Ginger Extract), and ajowan seeds, which have a flavor similar to thyme.

Chefs develop their own personalized version of this mixture and enjoy experimenting with its proportions to create delicately-balanced flavors in a range of dishes. Advanced Biotech’s Organic Cayenne Pepper Extract makes for a great and easy way to bring an authentic cayenne pepper flavor which is a popular spice to add. Some cooks also like to toast the spices for a richer aroma and taste.


Berbere is common in numerous dishes in East Africa. Traditional dishes such as Kolo, Dabo, and Doro Wat are a few places you might find this delicious blend; it is also often used in chicken recipes, lentil stews, and beef stews. Cooks often roast the spices in a pan and then store them in airtight containers to keep them fresh and easily available for cooking.

Although the recipe is flexible and leaves lots of room for experimentation, some of the spices are non-negotiable. The red chili pepper taste is important, although paprika can stand in for some or all of it if it’s too hot for your liking. Fenugreek is an essential component of Berbere and is a widely-used herb in this region, both for culinary and medicinal purposes. Roasting and grinding the seeds can reduce their bitterness, making the herb more palatable. Fenugreek is a highly versatile herb and is often found in breads and clarified butters as well as butterscotch, vanilla, and rum flavorings.

These are just a few of the tasty ways to add delicious East African flavor to your foods. Flavorists have lots of options when it comes to creating this ethnic cuisine, just one of the cultural favorites foodies love.