This Ethiopian dilik comes from Saba Alemayoh’s book Tekebash & Saba: Recipes from the Horn of Africa (£22, Murdoch Books).

Saba says: “Tigray’s cuisine has three essential recipes that form the building blocks for most dishes: injera (fermented flatbread), tesmi (spiced butter, see the recipe) and this chilli spice paste known as dilik. When using the paste, scoop it out using a dry spoon and avoid double-dipping to ensure it doesn’t go off. I recommend making this recipe in bulk as it stores well, but you can reduce the quantity if you prefer.”

This is a recipe that Saba shared as part of her guide to Ethiopian cuisine. Check it out to learn about the rich flavours of East Africa, including recipes for dorho sebhi (chicken and egg stew) and salata dakwa (tomato salad).


  • 5g ground ginger
  • 5g ajwain seeds
  • 5g black sesame seeds
  • 5g coriander seeds
  • 5g cardamom seeds
  • 5g korarima (Ethiopian cardamom, available online)
  • 8g garlic flakes
  • 17g onion flakes
  • 170g kashmir or medium chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil


  • STEP 1

    Roast all the dry spice ingredients, except for the chilli powder, in a dry non-stick frying pan over a medium heat for 5 mins until aromatic. Tip out onto a plate and leave to cool completely.

  • STEP 2

    Grind the spices in a blender or pestle and mortar to a smooth, fine texture. Transfer to a food processor, add the chilli powder and 25g salt, and mix well.

  • STEP 3

    Add 250ml of water and the oil, and mix until it becomes a firm paste like playdough. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Will keep covered in the fridge for up to one year.

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