Turning up the heat with Berbere hot pepper spiced cashew nibbles

So I give up, it’s five degrees today and raining. Many cultures use spicy food to drive out dampness and sluggishness, I am thinking of Ayurveda –  hot and spicy foods are used for slow metabolisers (Kapha types), the Chinese believe dog to be a warming food, so I was told while travelling in Szechuan by a Chinese lady, the Persians also have warming and cooling foods. And in Europe, where food hasn’t played the same role as a medicine as in the highly evolved cusines with a  very long history above, we eat hot soup. I was thinking of making Ethiopian food for my guests tomorrow, and while looking through the cupboards I came up with this heating recipe. Will go well with beer, cold wine or green tea.


Berbere spiced cashew nibbles

You will need – approximate measures, I don’t really measure much when I cook but the  below will work.

1 1/2 – 2 cups cashew or other nuts, skin off

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 tbsp Ethiopian chili powder  Berbere or to taste (in DC head to the shops, elsewhere get from internet e.g. Amazon.com)

1 tsp Mitmita – Ethiopian hot pepper (in DC head to the shops, elsewhere get from internet e.g. Amazon.com)

Black pepper

– preheat oven to 150° C – and toast your cashews until fragrant, maybe 5 minutes, don’t let them get brown though, just a nice light gold will do. You can do this in skillet with no oil as well

– caramelise the sugar in a large, ideally heavy skillet.  spread out in the thinnest layer you can manage. Sprinkle the Berbere, a peppermill twist or two of freshly ground black pepper and Mitmita on top of the sugar  and heat. Do not stir, if sugar is not caramelising equally you can take the pan from the heat and gently rotate it to distribute the sugar a little. WATCH the sugar, if you don’t it will burn, trust me; I multitask therefore I know

– when the sugar is caramelised add the nuts and stir to coat as evenly as possible. Don’t be a perfectionist about this, there is no point, believe me.

– put some extra berbere in a bowl – add the nuts, cover with a plate and shake to coat

– Leave to cool and serve in the garden with cold drinks while you inhale the scent of damascus roses, lucky you.


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