On a Quest to Preserve Traditional Ethiopian Spices

Berbere, for example, a crimson blend of more than a dozen spices (each family would have their own recipe) takes at least two weeks to prepare. So true. Thanks for this great site.

East Bay Ethnic Eats

Ethiopian dishes atop injera at Cafe Colucci. photo: Anna Mindess Ethiopian specialties accompanied by injera flatbread at Café Colucci on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. Photo: Anna Mindess

At Café Colucci on Telegraph Avenue, when you dip your injera into pungent, deftly seasoned creamy lentils, collard greens or chopped beef, you are dipping into thousands of years of Ethiopian culinary history.

“Sheltered in isolation, Ethiopian culinary art flourished autonomously for centuries,” writes restaurant owner Fetlework Tefferi in her book Ethiopian Pepper and Spice. “Farmer families have entrusted the seeds of their crops as well as ancient cultivation processes from father to son, while family spice blending from mother to daughter for generations on end.”

In order to ensure that the dozens of indigenous spices and herbs used in her beloved Oakland restaurant retain their authentic flavor, Tefferi has been passionately supporting the local farmers and dairywomen of Modjo, Ethiopia since 2009.

Fetlework Tefferi holds Ethiopian-grown coriander. photo: Anna Mindess Café Colucci owner Fetlework Tefferi holds Ethiopian-grown coriander. Photo: Anna…

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