30 Jul

Ethiopian Food: Our House Smells Amazing

The Recipe of Love: an Ethiopian Cookbook, by Aster Ketsela Belayneh

Our house smells amazing because I just made some Niter Kebbeh, the name for the amazing spiced butter used in a many Ethiopian dishes. For my birthday, our good friends Kate and Catie got me this Ethiopian cookbook (pictured above). We already had some Berbere (spicy stuff used in nearly any hot dish like Wat or spicy lentil stew), but had not made any Niter Kebbeh for a while. I needed to use it for a recipe in this book for Tiana’s birthday party tonight.

Spices used for Niter Kebbeh (Ethiopian spiced butter)

There you can see the array of spices. I’m actually not quite following the recipe in the book, but rather another recipe I found online ages ago which works well. I have, however, added some fenugreek which the book’s recipe recommends. Also, since it’s readily available, some of our friends are allergic to dairy, and I think it tastes great–I tend to use the Pure brand butter.

Stirring the simmering Niter Kebbeh. Don't let it brown!

It’s very easy: you dump all the spices in melted butter and then let it simmer for 30 minutes. It made our house smell amazing all morning.

Straining all the spices out.

Then you strain it into whatever container you want. It says to use double cheese cloth but we never seem to have any of those so this strainer works just fine.

Niter Kebbeh all ready to use

It looks kind of funny but it smells and tastes¬†amazing. It even works awesomely on toast if there’s any leftover from recipes. I’m really looking forward to making Ethiopian food again. It’s been a while.

Thanks Kate & Catie!


  • The Recipe of Love: an Ethiopian Cookbook, available on the Addis Ababa Restaurant website
  • Pure dairy free butter website
  • A blog post describing the first time I made Ethiopian food, complete with pictures. Unfortunately the recipes from the website I originally used are gone, although I do have them written down.