Monday, September 30, 2013

Ethiopian Spaghetti

I heard Ethiopian spaghetti is a dish served in its capital city of Addis Ababa. Pasta isn't a common dish in Ethiopia and so I had to look it up.  Although Ethiopia has never been ruled by a foreign power, it was briefly occupied by the Italians in 1936. During that brief occupation, the Ethiopians adopted a spaghetti dish that they made their own with the berbere spice blend commonly used in Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking.

Sometimes elbow macaroni is used instead of spaghetti, but the basic idea is to coat the noodles in an oil/butter sauce infused with the berbere spice blend flavors.  I have found recipes where it is served on its own or with tomatoes or with ricotta cheese mixed with chives or a combination of these items.   A popular recipe seems to also incorporate a mint lime cured trout with the noodles.

For this version, I decided to keep the spaghetti simply flavored with the berbere spice blend cooked with onions in an olive oil/butter sauce.  I liked the idea of cheese with chives, but used a combination of mozzarella and parmesan grated cheese blend with chives instead of ricotta.

The result is a refreshing mildly spiced noodle dish is satisfying flavored to be served on its own or with a meat dish such as Ethiopian Baked Chicken.

The Berbere spice blend can usually be found in specialty food stores for African cooking.  It can also be purchased online.  To create your own berbere spice blend, I recommend Marcus Samuelsson's Berbere Spice Blend Recipe

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Special Tools:  Large Deep Skillet with cover


1/4 Cup Mozzarella Cheese grated
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese grated
2 Tablespoons Chives chopped
12 oz. Spaghetti
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Yellow Onion chopped
2 Tablespoons Berbere Spice Blend
2 Garlic Cloves minced
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil chopped

In a medium size bowl add the mozzarella, parmesan and chives.  Mix the ingredients until well combined.  Set aside.

Cook the Spaghetti according to instructions on its package. Preferably cooked in salted water.  Set the cook noodles aside when cooked to al dente.

While the spaghetti cooks, heat the olive oil and butter in a large deep skillet with lid.  Saute the onions with the Berbere spice blend with the olive oil and butter.  Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the garlic to the sauce and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the spaghetti to the skillet and fold it into the sauce using tongs until it is well coated.  Add one tablespoon basil leaves and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and toss in the remaining basil leaves.

Serve with the cheese and chives blend on the side or on the noodles.


  1. Hi, I am canning an Ethiopian spaghetti sauce that uses Tomato sauce, Onions cooked in Olive oil, water and flavors. Do I utilize high temp water shower or weight? In the event that high temp water shower, to what extent? Assuming that weight, what weight and to what extent? Much thanks to you!

    1. Hello cxx. pk. Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I do not have much knowledge about canning foods. Wish I could be of more help. Wish you the best of luck on your project.

  2. Pasta is a very common dish in Addis Ababa

    1. Thank you. I did not know that. I would like to hear more about the pasta dishes served and will do a little more research on the variety of pastas used. Maybe I'll even learn a some new recipes. :-)