Ethiopian chicken with berberi sauce and fresh ginger dish

Ethiopian chicken with berberi sauce and fresh ginger

This historic dish is a prime example of how a handful of the right spices create a perfect balance of hot and sweet.

Carb Smart

Cooked chicken coated in berberi sauce plated for dinner.


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8 servings 
50 minutes (prep: 5 mins / cook: 45 mins)

3 (2030 ratings)
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Time required

50 mins



8 g/serving


  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) cardamom seeds (removed from green or white pods)
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) black peppercorns
  • 3 to 5 dried red cayenne chiles (like chile de arbol), stems removed
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches/7.5 cm long)
  • 2 small yellow onions, one coarsely chopped and other finely chopped
  • 2 pieces fresh ginger (each about size and thickness of 25 cent coin)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) canola oil
  • 1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce
  • 3 lbs (1.5 kg) cut-up bone-in chicken, skin removed (see tip)


  • Calories 310
  • Carbs 8 g
  • Sugar 2 g
  • Fibre 3 g


  1. In small bowl, combine cumin, cardamom, peppercorns, chiles and cinnamon. Preheat large skillet over medium-high heat. Once pan feels hot, add spice blend to pan. Toast spices, stirring them constantly as they bloom with nutty aroma and turn just a shade darker, 1 to 2 minutes. Quickly remove spices from pan and transfer to plate to cool, about 5 minutes. Once cooled, transfer spices to grinder, like coffee grinder, and grind to consistency of finely ground black pepper.
  2. In food processor, place coarsely chopped onion, ginger, garlic and ground spices. Mince ingredients to consistency of slightly coarse paste.
  3. In same skillet, pour canola oil and heat over medium temperature. Once oil appears to shimmer, add finely chopped onion and stir-fry until it turns light brown around edges, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add paste to skillet and cook, stirring ingredients occasionally, uncovered, until moisture in paste evaporates and canola oil starts to separate from mix, 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Add chicken pieces and allow them to absorb flavours from other ingredients, turning occasionally, uncovered, until some pieces turn lightly brown, about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour in tomato sauce and stir well.
  7. Lower heat to medium-low and cook chicken, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat in thickest parts is no longer pink inside and juices run clear, 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Serve chicken warm with aromatic sauce alongside a plate of rice, couscous or in the traditional way with slices of hard-boiled eggs.

Tip: To skin, hold chicken piece in one hand and with a paper towel in the other hand, pull off skin, using towel to help you grip skin. Sometimes partially freezing chicken also makes skinning easier.

Vegetarian option:

Use extra firm tofu and cut in “filet” style (about 1 inch thick). Pan sear, over medium heat. When tofu forms a crust on each side, add to paste and let simmer for about 5 minutes. * 1 block of tofu yields about 4 servings.

* 1 block of tofu yields about 4 servings.

Per serving (1 chicken piece and ⅓ cup/75 mL sauce)

  • Calories 310
  • Protein 40 g
  • Total fat 12 g
    • Saturated fat 1.5 g
    • Cholesterol 125 mg
  • Carbohydrates 8 g
    • Fibre 3 g
    • Sugars 2 g
    • Added sugars 0 g
  • Sodium 85 mg
  • Potassium 869 mg

© 2022 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Reproduced with permission from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

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Information presented within Cart2Table is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

Cart2Table has been reviewed and approved by Registered Dietitian Caroline Leblanc and Certified Diabetes Educator Naomi Orzech.