Cookbook Profile

Spiced Butter (Ethiopia)

Nit'ir Qibe
Makes 1 cup


A wide variety of cooking oils are used around the African continent. The Indians use ghee in their cooking, the Senegalese peanut oil, the Nigerians red palm oil. In Ethiopia a spiced clarified butter called nit'ir qibe is used to season a range of dishes.


1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 piece of stick cinnamon, 1/2 inch long
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 clove
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1-1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger


Toast the turmeric, cardamom, fenugreek, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove by placing them in a heavy skillet over low heat, stir-ring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they are fragrant and roasted. Place the butter in a heavy saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. Do not let the butter brown. When it is completely melted, bring it to a boil and skim off all the white foam.

Mix the onion, garlic, and ginger together and add the mixture to the butter, along with the toasted spices. Continue to simmer gently over low heat for 20 minutes, Remove from the heat and allow it to stand until the spices settle. Then strain the nit'ir qibe into a large container, cover, and store in a cool place.


The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent
By Jessica B. Harris
Simon & Schuster
Hardback, $25.00
382 pages
ISBN: 0-684-80275-9
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


The Africa Cookbook



Cookbook Profile Archive


This page created January 1999