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Mitmita is a traditional powdered, red-orange spice blend that’s widely used in Ethiopia. It is the second most popular spice blend after Berbere. It is generally made from hot peppers that are stronger than those used in Berbere.
Traditionally, the main ingredients for making Mitmita are dried chili peppers, Korarima seeds (Ethiopian cardamom), but can also include other spices such as cloves, cumin, green cardamom, black pepper, dried garlic, cinnamon and salt. There is no one single recipe for this mixture of spices, instead there are in fact, many versions.
The Origin Of Mitmita
The origin of mitmita can be traced back to the time when the Ethiopians of the independent Aksumite kingdom controlled the Silk Road from the Red Sea. Located at the crossroads of trade routes between India and the Mediterranean, the Kingdom of Axum was an important state in the Horn of Africa, located north of Ethiopia, Djibouti and present-day Eritrea.
Inaugurated over 2,000 years ago, the Silk Road was the most important land trade route in history and connected Central Asia and Europe for thousands of years.
The Aksumites knew the secrets of the monsoon winds and exploited them to send their ships to India in the summer, and again to Africa in the winter.
The connection with the legendary Silk Road meant that Aksumite traders had access to goods from China. As a result, on their return trip to Africa, the Axumite galleys were loaded with spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and turmeric, among other exotic spices.
As these imported spices made their way to the market stalls in Axum, locals were intrigued and tested all the spices.
Over time, each household developed its own spice blends, perfecting closely-guarded concoctions that they passed down to subsequent generations. The result is therefore a mixture of spices that differs from region to region and from household to household.
Preparation of Mitmita
Mitmita preparation is a valued skill and knowledge that is passed down for generations. It is traditionally used both as a rubbing spice to season ingredients before cooking, and as a condiment to add both heat and flavor to dishes.
The spices are first roasted whole and cooled completely before being ground into powder in a spice or coffee grinder, or even a blender.
Mitmita can be stored for several months in an airtight glass jar at room temperature in a dry place, protected from light.
How To Use Mitmita
The most common use of Mitmita is as a condiment on the table alongside the Ethiopian dishes, especially meat heavy dishes such as Raw Meat and Tibs. It can also be sprinkled on many dishes or even just on a piece of Injera.
Mitmita is also traditionally used to season Kitfo, one of Ethiopia’s most popular dishes, and can also be sprinkled on Ful Medames.
Since there is no universally accepted mitmita blend recipe, there is also no universal flavor profile specific to Mitmita. In general, however, mitmita imparts heat to dishes, whether in powder or paste form. And thanks to its mainly flavoring powers, it enhances both sweet and bitter flavors.
Ingredients Required to Make Mitmita
- 20 dried bird’s eye chili peppers
- 1 tbsp of Korerima (Ethiopian Cardamom)
- 10 green cardamom seeds
- 2 tbsp of cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp of allspice berries
- 1 tbsp of black pepper
- 2 tsp of whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp of ginger powder
- 2 tsp of Salt
How to Make Mitmita (Step-by-Step Tutorial)
- Roast the chili peppers as well as the Korarima seeds, green cardamom seeds, cumin seeds, allspice berries, and cinnamon stick using a heavy bottom pan at medium tempreture for 3 min. Make sure to shake your pan once in a while to avoid burning the ingredients.
- Remove from heat, transfer to a mid-sized bowl and let it sit until it cools off. Stir the mix now and then to make sure it cools off faster and evenly.
- Then add the mixture along with all of the other ingredients into a blender and grind to powder.
- Transfer to a glass jar with an air-tight seal and store in a dark, dry, and cool area away from sunlight. This way, you can store Mitmita for several months without it going bad.
Equipment Recommendations to Make Mitmita
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