In our experience, there are two different kinds of eaters in this world: the picky kind and the adventurous kind. Picky eaters are the ones who will reject an entire hamburger because they found a tiny piece of onion on it when they asked for no onion, while the adventurous eater will order the “Kitchen Sink” burger without even asking the server if it’s good or not.
Regardless of the kind of eater you are, we think that you’ll find something to love among our menu full of Ethiopian food!
The one thing that makes picky eaters hesitant to visit our restaurant is that they’ve heard that our food is full of “spice.” But don’t be afraid! First of all, the spices that we use in Ethiopian food are exactly the same as spices you may have had before, and we don’t just add spices gratuitously because we want to burn off your taste buds.
Ethiopian Food Uses Spice For Flavor, Not (Only) Heat!
If you’ve ever put yourself on a “healthy” diet before, only to be shocked by the blandness of everything you tasted, you’re a great candidate for trying Ethiopian food. “With its rich, spicy stews and diversity of flavors, Ethiopian food surely qualifies as one the world’s great stand-alone cuisines,” writes food and travel blogger Daniel Noll. “Considering the country’s history and geography, particularly in situ, it makes sense. The cuisine follows the culture, formed and informed by millennia of trade and exchange with the Middle East, Asia and the Mediterranean. Amidst this storm of positive culinary influence, acquired spices blend with Ethiopia’s indigenous ingredients. And, poof! You get Ethiopian food, a unique table befitting the context.” So yes, while some Ethiopian dishes are spicy, we prefer to think of our cuisine as overflowing with flavor, with some occasional heat as an exclamation point!
Now let’s talk about three of the main places all of this heat is coming from…
4 Essential Ethiopian Spice Blends
- Berbere – This is the heavyweight champion of all Ethiopian spice blends, and while you won’t find it in 100 percent of our dishes, you can’t really say you’ve eaten Ethiopian food unless you’ve tried it. This blend is made with ground chili pepper seeds, garlic, ginger, sacred basil, cloves, fenugreek, cumin, cardamom and more, depending upon each chef’s recipe.
- Niter Kibbeh – This stable of Ethiopian cuisine isn’t a spice alone, but a clarified butter, similar to India’s ghee, that has been revved up with a delicious spice blend. Again, the specific spices can vary depending on the preferences of the chef, but most Niter Kibbeh will contain garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg, fenugreek, cinnamon, and clove.
- Mitmita – Another heavy hitter in the Ethiopian spice rack, this blend is an even hotter flavoring than Berbere. It’s made with ground up Ethiopian red peppers, cardamom, cloves, salt, sacred basil, and maybe some koseret, an African herb that’s similar to sage.
- Mekelesha – This is a milder, all-purpose Ethiopian spice blend. It’s made using cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, ginger, cloves, and maybe even some nutmeg, and it’s added to just about any dish that needs a punch of flavor.
Experience The Excitement Of Ethiopian Food At Our Cuisine!
Well there you have it! A (very) brief introduction to some of the spice blends and flavors that you’ll encounter when you come to dine with us at Benyam Cuisine in Harlem. Remember that we have two convenient locations to serve you. You can make a reservation to sit down in either of our restaurants online, or place a food order that can be picked up at your leisure. We hope to see you soon!
We hope that these answers have cleared up any questions you may have had about Ethiopian food and made you just a little bit more curious to try it for yourself. We encourage you to start your culinary foodie adventure today!