Berbere vs Garam Masala (2)

Berbere vs Garam Masala: 7 Things You Need To Know

Spices are time-honored ingredients that add flavor and aroma to any dish. Berbere vs garam masala are two such spice blends that add something special to a dish, and it is worth it to have them in the kitchen. Here are seven things you should know about garam masala vs berbere:

Berbere vs Garam Masala: Ingredients Used

Berbere is a key ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine, but its popularity has spread all over the world due to the complex blend of spices and their fiery hot flavor. 

Garam masala, on the other hand, is an Indian blend and has many variations. But the main spices used in all variations are cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper.

Here are the ingredients present in both of them:

Berbere Garam Masala
Smoked paprikaCumin seeds
Cayenne pepperBay leaves
Kosher saltNutmeg
Ground gingerBlack cardamom
Ground cardamomCinnamon 
Fenugreek seedsBlack pepper
Ground corianderGreen cardamom
Ground cinnamonDry ginger

Did you know that chaat masala contains almost the same ingredients as garam masala? Find out their similarities and differences in chaat masala vs garam masala.

Berbere vs Garam Masala: Taste And Smell

“Barbare” translates to “hot” or “pepper” in Ethiopia’s state language, Amharic. It is more complex and earthy. The flavor of berbere is quite distinct from that of garam masala due to the addition of paprika, ginger, allspice, and fenugreek.

Berbere has an overpowering aroma to it. You can smell the sweet cinnamon and cardamon and the spicy kick from the paprika and black pepper.

Garam means “hot” and masala means “spices”. It translates to a hot blend of spice, which does not refer to spiciness but the intensity of flavors. Garam masala is a warm spice mix, which is milder than berbere because there is no paprika in it. Although, some versions of garam masala add chilies to it. 

Garam masala is a fragrant spice. It is a combination of the floral overtones of coriander, the earthiness of cumin, and the sweetness of cinnamon.

Read this article on curry vs masala to find out more about Indian curries and spices.

Berbere vs Garam Masala: Health And Nutrition

The spices in garam masala have various health benefits, such as improving digestion, reducing bloating, and boosting metabolism. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The ingredients of berbere are rich in vitamins A and C. Its benefits include anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties.

Here is the detailed nutrition information for both these spice mixtures:

Nutrition (Per serving)BerbereGaram Masala
Calories79 cal65 cal

Berbere vs Garam Masala: Methods Of Preparation

Berbere is added to vegetable soups or slow-cooked meat stews for a distinct flavor. Making berbere at home is simple enough. You only have to collect the spices mentioned above, pour them into a blender, and pulse until smooth.

You can also heat or sun dry the spices beforehand to bring out more flavor and aroma.

Here is a video showing how to make a berbere spice mix with proper measurements.

This is how you make garam masala at home:

  1. You need to collect all the ingredients listed above and clean them thoroughly.
  2. Pick out any stones or debris present in them and wipe the bay leaves clean.
  3. Put them in a pan and start roasting them on low heat.
  4. Once they are roasted, take them off the heat and transfer them to a tray to let them cool.
  5. Pour them into a jar and blend until smooth.
  6. Sieve the mixture and store it in an air-tight container.

You should keep it in a dry and dark place. It can stay good for 3-4 months in the refrigerator and for up to a year if frozen.

Garam masala is often sprinkled over a finished dish. Or, you can add it to yogurt, which will make for a perfect summer snack!

Berbere vs Garam Masala: History And Origin

Berbere is a traditional Ethiopian spice blend that is the backbone of Eritrean cuisine. It is also used in the Ethiopian national dish, Doro wat. Historians had traced the origin of berbere to the 5th century when Ethiopia controlled the route to the Silk Road through the Red Sea.

Traders got their hands on spices from China, which were sold in local markets and made their way to Ethiopian households. People started experimenting and made a spice mixture that came to be known as berbere.

Ethiopia is also famous for its tea leaves. Here is an article to learn more on masala chai vs chai.

Garam masala originated in Northern India and is used to make the most amazing curries from the Indian Subcontinent, such as butter chicken, lamb and beef curries, and chicken tikka.

It was first used by the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. Garam masala is a mixture of warm spices, which were made due to the cold winters. It can contain up to 30 ingredients.

What Can I Use Instead Of Berbere?

Ras el hanout, another North African spice blend, is a close substitute for berbere. It also contains paprika to add a fiery hot flavor. And it has the warming flavors of ground cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. These are all found in berbere as well.

Another substitute for berbere could be Baharat. It has similar ingredients to berbere, like paprika, cloves, cumin, pepper, and cinnamon. To make it more like berbere, you can add cayenne pepper and chili flakes to it.

Where To Buy Berbere Spice?

You can buy traditional or 100% organic berbere seasoning from Amazon and get it delivered right to your doorstep. There are many ventures, situated in various states all over America that source berbere from other countries and ship all over the US.

These businesses are Burlap and Barrel (Pennsylvania), Kalustyan’s (NYC), Spice Station (Los Angeles), etc. You can also check your local supermarket or Walmart to see if they carry it as well.

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