Awaze – Ethiopian Chili Dip

    This fundamental Ethiopian red chili dip, awaze, is so delicious and easy to make you’ll start to use it in everything! Try this traditional awaze recipe today.

    Traditionally, it is made for special occasions like weddings and served with raw meat (many consider gored-gored – cubed raw meat with dipping sauce – an unofficial national dish in Ethiopia that no celebration is complete without).

    What is Awaze?

    It is an Ethiopian red chili sauce and it is extremely hot. Berbere is a traditional spice blend composed of dried chilies, garlic, ginger, onion, rue seeds, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon sticks.

    Other ingredients include mitmita, a spice blend containing hot pili-pili peppers, cardamom seeds, cloves, and salt. T’edj, a local version of mead, a drink made from fermented honey to which the leaves and buds of a local plant, gesho (aka “shiny-leaf buckthorn”), are added. And finally, salt and niter kibbeh (clarified butter), also typical of the country’s cuisine, and in which a large number of spices are infused.

    This sauce is served as an accompaniment to most Ethiopian dishes and enhances flavor by bringing a particularly spicy note.

    Awaze is often used with grilled meat, pieces of which are dipped directly into the sauce. Depending on taste and tolerance to chili, the amount used can be adjusted.

    Origin of Awaze

    Awaze is a sauce that brings together four typical Ethiopian staples; berbere, mitmita, t’edj, and niter kibbeh. These spice blends are hard to find in stores, which is why most Ethiopian families prepare them at home.

    Berbere and niter kibbeh are two of the most well-known. It’s sometimes used in the same way as paprika is. Mitmita is frequently used to season kefto, raw meat dish.  Beans are also flavored with it.
    Mitmita is especially spicy because it contains pili-pili peppers, which are among the hottest on the Scoville scale, which rates chili peppers from mild to deadly. 
    T’edj, fragrant mead that can be drunk on its own, can also be used to make awaze or delleh, two Ethiopian hot sauces.

    Recipe for Awaze

    The awaze’s ultimate flavor should be healthy mix of spice, sweetness, and bitterness. 
    Spiciness, however, must be present.

    The preparation of this chili sauce is simple. Just combine the two different spice blends (berbere and mitmita), add Ethiopian mead (t’edj), a little salt, and some melted niter kibbeh.

    Once the elements are combined in a mortar, they are worked together until a smooth paste is obtained.

    If you are using whole spices to prepare berbere and mitmita, it is important to sift the blends before incorporating them into the other ingredients because the final result of the awaze should be smooth and without lumps.

    Recipe Variation

    • T’edj is sometimes replaced in the making of awaze by other spirits such as beer, wine, or aniseed drinks, such as arak. Sometimes it is just a simple mixture of water and honey.
    • Awaze can differ from version to version, as sometimes one spice blend is used in greater quantity than the other depending on the desired taste.

    Storage and Serving Suggestions

    It can be kept for a week in the refrigerator and can spice up all meat, vegetable, or even fish dishes. It is also a sauce into which you can directly dip food such as kebabs, for example.

    It’s also best to take the awaze out of the fridge a few minutes before using it so that the chilled butter will soften a little.

    Like many Ethiopian sauces, different households and restaurants use slightly different ingredients and proportions based on their preferences. Below is our go-to recipe, but it’s truly customizable.

    Awaze - Ethiopian Chili Dip

    Elenis Kitchen
    Awaze is a traditional Ethiopian sauce or spice paste, made from berbere, mitmita and t'edj (mead). It’s served with, and used to prepare, the country's main dishes.
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Course Condiments
    Cuisine East Africa, Ethiopia
    Servings 150 ml jar


    • ¼ cup berbere
    • ½ tablespoon ground black cardamom
    • ⅛ teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons red wine
    • 3 tablespoons warm water


    • Mix all ingredients until you get a smooth consistency.
    • Store awaze in the refrigerator for up to a week.



    A more traditional awaze recipe will use tej (honey wine) as the alcoholic liquid or areka (a strong alcoholic drink similar to gin). I only make awaze with red wine, but you could also try white wine or one of these other stronger substitutes.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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