Wholesome Cook

Ethiopian Berbere Beef

Flavours of the Ethiopian Berbere spice mix and the ease of using minced beef in this dish, ensures that dinner can be a flavorsome affair, ready in minutes and padded out with plenty of green vegetables. 

Berbere Beef

On Wednesday about a fortnight ago, I received a call from Matt just after lunchtime.  Apparently, as he was heating up his quiche in the microwave at work he couldn’t help but notice one of his colleagues enjoying what looked and smelled like a spicy beef dish.  The brief to me and request to replicate this dish for dinner was quite concise but evenly as unclear: it was a spicy beef dish with not much sauce and the beef mince in little granules, with some greens. Also, and this was very important, the lunch’s owner looked very happy.

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I had a rough idea of what the dish was supposed to look like from that description, except of course for the non-descript spice mix. Given the opportunity to be adventurous, I opted for the wonderful Herbie’s Spices  African Berbere blend. Herbie’s Spices should need little introduction, with the store recently celebrating their 16th birthday and their spice range of over 300 items, now including 108 spice mixes with over 70 of these unique to Herbie’s Spices. In fact, Herbie’s is the only Australian spice store to be included in the World’s Best Spice Stores list!

This unique African Berbere blend contains cumin and coriander seed which are familiar from North African spice mixes, as well as a more localised blend of pepper, ajowan, fenugreek, allspice. For anyone as besotted with the warmth of Asian flavours as me, there is also ginger, chilli, nutmeg and cloves.

Good enough to have twice in a fortnight actually. First, padded out with beans, mushrooms and a little Thai basil leftover from another dish. Served in lettuce leaves, it made perfect sense. Good enough to have seconds actually. The second time around it was all about green veg and rice, because why not?

Berbere Beef-3

Berbere Beef
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Ethiopian Berbere Beef

For a gluten-free version use tamari and Worcestershire sauce that's gluten-free. The dish would also work well with veal or chicken mince. Mushrooms or other green vegetables, such as zucchini, cabbage and silverbeet could also be added. You can serve this dish with rice or in lettuce cups.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Servings: 4 -6


  • 1-2 tbsp macadamia oil
  • 500 g organic beef mince
  • 1 brown or red onion cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup finely diced smoked sausage optional
  • 2 tbsp Berbere spice mix
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper optional
  • 1/4 cup organic soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (gluten-free option if preferred)
  • veggies of choice about 2 cups: broccoli florets, french beans, zucchini
  • 2 tsp tapioca or cornflour
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped mint


  • Heat oil in a large pan over high heat. Add beef and onion and sprinkle over with Berbere mix and cayenne, if using. Brown the meat, stirring and breaking up bigger chunks.
  • Mix together soy sauce, rice syrup and Worcestershire sauce. Lower heat to medium-low and add sauce and broccoli to the mince and cook for a couple of minutes, add tapioca and water mixture and allow for the sauce to thicken. Mix through chopped parsley, mint and basil leaves.
  • Serve the beef on its own, in lettuce cups or with rice.
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Steph October 22, 2013 at 9:11 am

This sounds amazing! I’m glad to hear you are featuring a spice from a less popular region of the world, there are so many interesting flavours in Africa! Thanks!

Jayne October 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I’ve never heard of this spice mix before! Love trying new ones as we really love spices over here. Anything padded with spices is bound to be good. I’ll try to look for this around here!

Jayne October 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm

PS: How’s the delivery like from Herbie?

Martyna @ Wholesome Cook October 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Fairly efficient actually, so I hear. I haven’t tried online ordering as the store is only a couple of suburbs away from where we live. If they can’t deliver, I would try looking for an African store in your area to see if they stock this blend.

Maria Montana October 22, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I am definitely making this for dinner… Very soon!

Bam's Kitchen October 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Great little flavors in this beef mixture. Don’t you just love when our hubby’s send us photos of something they want you to recreate in your kitchen. My hubby travels all over the world so for me it can be a riddle trying to determine what the dish might be or the ingredients involved. However, it looks like you landed on this dish. A great gluten free dish. How is your class going? Have a super week. BAM

jcatesby October 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Yum yum love this recipe great with ground turkey also. Meant to compliment on the plates very stylish .

14 Authentic and Flavorful African Dishes | Paleo Grubs January 18, 2018 at 4:32 pm

[…] 11. Ethiopian Berbere Beef Here’s that berbere seasoning in a beef dish with macadamia oil, beef mince, brown or red onion, cayenne pepper, coconut aminos (to replace the soy sauce) and honey (to replace the rice malt syrup). Even with the paleo adjustments, this dish is delicious. […]


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