When you eat Ethiopian or Eritrean food, you're enjoying a cuisine whose origins probably date back to the middle of the first millennium A.D.
Berbere is a traditional spice blend that is the backbone of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. It’s used in many different dishes, including Ethiopia’s national dish, “Doro Wat” (chicken stew). This fiery blend is a melange of spices mixed and matched in each individual cook’s kitchen, sometimes in different blends for different dishes.
There is no accurate evidence as to when the spices that are used in making berbere were first introduced to the Horn of Africa. It is believed that berbere seasoning came about around 5 BC. Its arrival was at a point in history when the Red Sea route was made accessible for commercial purposes to the Silk Road. The Silk Road is both in reference to the terrestrial and maritime routes connecting Africa with Asia, the Middle East and Southern Europe. This gave the traders access to spices from China, which included black pepper and ginger, to name a few. These and other spices used in making berbere found their way to merchants and from them to local cooks.
Ethiopian food is distinctive and delicious, befitting a remarkable country with a cultural heritage that stands out from the rest of Africa.
While the cuisine of Ethiopia is gradually becoming better known, it's no overstatement to say it remains one of the world's best-kept secrets.
Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking is very spicy and consists of vegetables and meat dishes.
Most of them are stews of a sort, creamy in texture and rich in flavour. Onions form the base of the sauce for these stews, but you won't see them because they're cooked down so thoroughly. They can be either meat or vegetarian, and most of them have one primary ingredient, plus onions and spices.
As a note, it is important to mention that any information shared about the history of Berbere spices is subject to speculation. Although some evidence indicates the history, accuracy is up for debate.
Your Guide to the History & Taste of Ethiopian Food. (2022). Rumi Spice. https://www.rumispice.com/blogs/rumi-red-saffron/spice-101-ethiopian-berbere-your-guide-ethiopian-cuisine
Kloman, H. (2021, December 21). Get to Know Comforting Ethiopian Cuisine. Allrecipes; Allrecipes. https://www.allrecipes.com/article/introduction-to-ethiopian-cuisine/