Total Time
1hr 45mins
Prep 15 mins
Cook 1 hr 30 mins

An Ethiopian recipe I grew up eating in Saudi Arabia. There are many Ethiopians there and this is very popular. This is a lively spicy stewed beef (or lamb) dish that is addictive. Ethiopians do NOT make this dish with pork, but I use bacon grease for the oil because I like it. You can use a store-bought spice mixture called berbere -available on-line or in larger towns and cities- which is essential to this recipe, or make your own mixture at home. The flavor of the berbere is ultimately decided by the preference of the cook. It is very spicy at our house; I have only ever had the berbere made in Ethiopia! Our supply has dried up and I shall have to begin making my own. I'm posting this for people like me who miss their old comfort food and have no idea how to make this in their new home.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Sear meat in the oil, on high heat, until browned. You may like yours with more or less meat - your choice. And I have made this with ground meat (lamb).
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionaly and being careful not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add the large can of diced tomatoes, a couple of cups of water and the tomato paste. When the paste heats through it will stir in easily.
  4. Start with 2 Tb of the berbere and see how spicy and flavorful you want it. I use gobs, I love it.
  5. Simmer the zigni on medium - low for about an hour uncovered, or until it reached a consistency that you like.
  6. Serve with a generous scattering of chopped coriander (cilantro) on a bed of rice or with plenty of injira bread for scooping. The Ethiopian woman who taught my dad to make this also would serve this with halved boiled eggs laid on the zigni around the parameter of the serving dish. Very pretty.
  7. To make berberé spice mix:.
  8. Stir the spices (listed as ingredients, above) together and roast them in a dry skillet for about 7 minutes over med. low heat.
  9. Be careful to keep stirring (and not to let the spices burn) 'til roasted. You will cough while roasting the bebere!
  10. I keep mine in a mason jar in the freezer. It will keep well for a very long time in there.
  11. I didn't include the time to make the spice mix w/ this recipe as you may prefer to purchase it.
Most Helpful

This is a dish that looks familiar - it's a stew - but which has a unique spice blend that differentiates it. I have to admit I cheated a bit with the spice mix - the ingredients are very similar to the garam masala I have, so I used that as a base, added some fenugreek, a lot of paprika and a whole lot of cayenne. I think it tasted great. I served this over rice and it made a very nice dinner tonight.

duonyte February 25, 2012