Eritrean Spiced Butter


Note: Known in the Tigrinya language as tesmi and in the Ge'ez language as niter kibbeh, this is essentially clarified butter (ghee) cooked with ginger, onion, and spices. Eritreans use it to create richness in sauces such as in spicy tomato (silsi), spicy lentil (ades), chickpea (shiro) and chicken (tsebhi derho). Also try using it instead of butter when making eggs or sautéing vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, and carrots or greens.

Cooking time: 30 min
Makes: 1 cup


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 inches ginger stalk, grated
  • 1/2 white onion, large dice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp black cardamom seeds, preferrably Aframomum corrorima (optional)


1. In a small saute pan, melt butter on medium.

2. Once butter is melted, add other ingredients, turn heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Strain contents of pan through a cheese cloth. Discard the solids.

4. Use what you wish of the spiced butter and store extra in fridge for convenient use up to three months.