Karl’s Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian Spiced Clarified Butter)

adapted from under12parsecs

Niter Kibbeh is a key ingredient in many Ethiopean dishes. I suspect that the clarifying process and spices were meant to keep the butter from going bad in Ethiopia’s hot climate before refrigeration. I made this the day before, so that it would be ready when I started cooking my feast. I will be using this ingredient in my doro wat, shiro wat, and abesha gomen.

Many of the Westernized Ethiopian recipes, that I have looked at, replace this ingredient with olive oil. In fact, as an alternative you could make this as a seasoned olive oil, by simply replacing the butter. Maybe I will try this another time, but for this meal I am trying to be relatively “authentic.”

Karl’s Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian Spiced Clarified Butter)


2 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 inch cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
½ tsp. fenugreek seeds
¼ cup red onion, minced
2 cloves cloves, crushed
1 tsp. gingerroot, sliced thin
¼ tsp, turmeric, ground

½ lb. unsalted butter (alternative, ½ cup olive oil)


1. Toast the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and fenugreek in a small saucepan over a medium heat for 20 seconds.

2. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

3. Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric. Continue cooking for one minute more.

4. Place the butter in the saucepan and reduce the heat to as low as possible. Continue heating for 15 minutes.

5. Strain the butter through cheesecloth and discard the solids.

1 Comment

Filed under Other, Sauces and Spices

One response to “Karl’s Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian Spiced Clarified Butter)

  1. Pingback: Karl’s Doro Wot (Ethiopian Red Chicken Stew) with Authentic Injera | Jabberwocky Stew

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