Chard with Berbere – A Simple & Spicy Ethiopian-Style Side Dish – Recipe

Swiss chard cooked with berbere

Berbere, the quintessential Ethiopian spice mixture, is great to have in your pantry, because it can add complex spice and heat to any basic preparation of vegetables. Depending on the cook, in addition to the chiles it is likely to have ginger, cloves, coriander, allspice, and less familiar flavors like long pepper, ajwain, and rue and more. If you don't have ready access to and Ethiopian grocery, you can make your own or buy berbere on Amazon.

I call this recipe "Ethiopian-Style" rather than authentic, because I haven't seen chard prepared exactly this way. That said, at least to my non-native palate it fit well in a meal with traditional dishes and injera.

This dish will only take you about 10 minutes of active preparation, and then a little bit of supervision while the greens cook down.

Chard is a great option when you are feeding folks who don't necessarily love the stronger tasting greens like mustard, collard or kale. But you should feel free to experiment. If you do use chard, don't event think of throwing out the stems. When cooked through they are succulent and delicious.

Ethiopian-Style Chard with Berbere
Serves 4 as a side dish
Vegetarian, vegan if you use oil instead of butter, and gluten-free

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 -  3 tablespoons of berbere
  • 2 heads of chard, washed, trimmed, leaves stripped, and stems chopped into bite-sized pieces. Leave it damp.
  • salt
  1. Heat the butter or oil in a large, preferably cast iron, skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Fry the onion and garlic for 2 minutes.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of the berbere (more if you know you want the heat) and cook for 10 seconds. Immediately add the damp chard and stir to make sure the spices don't burn. Add two big pinches of salt. Stir.
  4. Add a couple tablespoons of water if needed and cover for 10 minutes or so, until the greens are wilted and the stems tender. Remove lid and cook of remaining water. The greens should be gilded with butter and spices.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may want more berbere or salt. A squeeze of lemon juice might be good too.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, February 15th, 2010 in Recipes, Side Dishes.

8 Responses to “Chard with Berbere – A Simple & Spicy Ethiopian-Style Side Dish – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    February 15, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    We have several fantastic Ethiopian restaurants in the DC area and I have been itching to try to replicate some of the dishes at home. So happy to see you delving into this cuisine!

  2. Reply
    February 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    This is very similar to my mom’s recipe 🙂

  3. Reply
    February 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    You are really introducing me to some new foods! 🙂 I’m liking the ethiopian style posts. It’s nice to expand your cooking horizons now and then. I will be trying this one on the weekend.

  4. Reply
    February 16, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    This looks really delicious. I love the flavors of Ethiopian cooking, this would be a great side dish.

  5. Reply
    February 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    I’ve got to try this one. Our CSA got me cooking a LOT of chard early last summer, and I was longing for new recipes. The one thing I might do differently is to toss in the chopped stems first, and add the leaves only for the last bit of the cooking (the last 1-2 min, maybe?). That way it requires a little less babysitting, and you can adjust how wilted you want the leaves.

  6. Reply
    Chris of Stumptown
    February 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    Usually I am not motivated to cook with the ribs unless they are going to be cooked with the greens.

    I do however save them for stocks… toss them in a freezer bag with leek tops, asparagus ends, mushroom stems, parsley stems etc. Amazing what you can get from stuff most ppl toss in the garbage.

  7. Reply
    August 31, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    I am Ethiopian. I grew up there but did not know how to make this dish. I just did and Yeeeeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!
    Its Delisioma.

    Thanx very much. I just sat to eat with Shiro one side and this Gomen next to eat. It is heaven.

  8. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    August 31, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    That's great to hear that it tasted right to you, given that you grew up there! Thanks for the feedback.

    – Michael

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