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Berbere beef stew and spiced silverbeet

A hearty stew that's rich with warm spices and chilli. Flatbread essential.

By Alice Storey & Emma Knowles
  • 35 mins preparation
  • 4 hrs 20 mins cooking plus resting
  • Serves 4
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Berbere beef stew and spiced silverbeet

Store the extra berbere spice in an airtight container in the pantry and use it to make other Ethiopian specialties, such as doro wat, a spiced chicken dish.


  • 40 gm ghee
  • 1 kg beef, such as brisket or chuck, cut into 4cm pieces
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1½ tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 400 gm canned crushed tomatoes
  • 500 ml beef stock (2 cups)
  • To serve: flatbread (see note)
Berbere spice
  • 6 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp each fenugreek seeds and black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 50 gm dried onion flakes
  • 5 small dried red chillies, seeds removed, coarsely broken
  • 50 gm sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp each ground nutmeg, ground ginger and ground cinnamon
Spiced silverbeet
  • 500 gm silverbeet leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • 1½ tbsp ghee
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1½ tbsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • Pinch of ground allspice


  • 1
    For berbere spice, dry-roast cardamom, cloves, coriander and fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns and allspice in a small frying pan over medium heat until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Cool, then finely grind in a mortar and pestle, or spice grinder, with onion flakes and chilli. Stir through remaining spice and 1 tsp fine sea salt.
  • 2
    Heat half the ghee in a large casserole or saucepan over medium heat. Add beef in batches, turn occasionally until browned (3-5 minutes), then remove from pan and set aside. Heat remaining ghee, add onion and stir occasionally until golden (8-10 minutes). Add garlic and ginger, and stir until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Add 2½-3 tbsp berbere spice (remainder will keep for 3 months) and stir to combine. Add tomato and stock, and bring to a simmer, then return beef to the pan and reduce heat to very low, cover and stir occasionally until beef is quite tender (3-3½ hours). Remove lid and cook until beef is thoroughly giving (1 hour). Set aside to rest (15 minutes).
  • 3
    For spiced silverbeet, blanch leaves until just tender (1 minute), drain and refresh, then squeeze to remove excess water. Heat ghee in a large frying pan over high heat. Add garlic, ginger and seeds, and stir until fragrant (30 seconds). Add silverbeet and stir occasionally until it starts to become golden (3-4 minutes). Add allspice, season to taste and serve hot with beef stew and flatbread.


Injera is Ethiopia's traditional flatbread, but Lebanese or Afghan breads also work well.
Drink Suggestion: Bold red zinfandel. Drink suggestion by Max Allen