Berbere is a spice mix used in Ethiopian cooking. A fragrant combination of spicy, bitter and sweet, it has a deep orange/red colour and is a blend of many spices with its base being red chilli. It’s an incredibly versatile spice mix which can be used on mosts meats as a seasoning, mixed with oil to form a paste, sprinkled on vegetables, soups and added to stews.
Most large supermarkets in the UK carry it now, however I was fortunate enough to be given a large jar of authentic berbere by my wonderful Ethiopian neighbour. She has it sent over from home in large quantities and uses it in most of the traditional dishes she cooks for the family. And she is a wonderful cook!
Here I’ve gone for a sweet, spicy, sticky glaze for chicken skewers, but it’d also work beautifully on fish, pork steaks and would be perfect on chicken wings. The heat level here is family friendly with just a warm tingle of spice, but add more berbere to taste if you like a kick.
Makes enough glaze for 8 skewers (using 8 chicken thighs). Increase quantities as necessary.
8 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned
250ml fresh orange juice (from a carton or freshly squeezed with some grated zest to take it to the next level!)
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tsp berbere (increase as per your own taste)
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set up your BBQ for direct grilling. I used the new Thuros T1 for this cook, which was perfect (I have a review coming soon). You may want to go for a 2 zone setup if you’re doing a larger cook so that you have an area for keeping cooked food warm.
In a small saucepan, prepare the glaze by combining the orange juice, honey, garlic, berbere and plenty of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and reduce the liquid by about two thirds. Remove from the heat, taste for seasoning/heat levels and allow to cool. The glaze will thicken to a syrupy consistency.
Open out each chicken thigh and butterfly the thicker end to ensure an even thickness along its length. Slice each thigh lengthways, forming 2 thinner strips, and thread onto skewers. Repeat for the remaining thighs.
Grill the chicken, turning regularly, until cooked through. Paint the chicken on both sides with the glaze, using it all, and give a quick blast of direct heat to set it.
Serve the chicken on flat breads or in pittas with plenty of salad…. or however you fancy :)