Complete Guide to Shopping in Ethopia

Here in Ethiopia most of us cherish herbs and spices just because we want to add flavour our Doro Wat, Himbasha, Injera and other types of traditional meals which let out very appealing aroma when cooked with certain spices like the popular Berbere. While this may hold true, some other persons make use of herbs strictly for medicinal purposes that have been found to be very useful health wise. .

Whatever the case may be, it is advisable to buy right when purchasing herbs, noting that this is not Enkutatash celebration when we just buy daisies and burn dried flowers. Care should be taken when buying edible substances like the spices and herbs.

Moreover, the best combination of herbs makes the best medicine and the best combination of spices makes the best meal so knowing what to buy and how to buy is very crucial to getting great satisfaction from whatever you purchase.

Generally herbs are used as ingredients for perfumes, culinary purposes and also as medicine and to shop for the kind that matches your need; you should take note of these descriptions as it would guide your choice of a high quality herb or spice.

Herbs and Spices for Ethiopian Cuisines

There are many Ethiopian spices and herbs that can make a sumptuous meal but two are very special as they are not used in all dishes but the specially prepared ones on certain occasions. Shopping for herbs will then largely depend on how much of the spices you know enough to decide which will be appropriate for what. Of all the popular spices in Ethiopia however, the Mitmita, Berbere and Niter Kibbeh are the most popular. Let's briefly run through the list of the herbs and why you will find them useful when purchased.


Berbere is one special herb in Ethiopia that has nutmeg, black cardamom, garlic, onion, ginger as its constituents. It is the major spice blend that most locals and even city dwellers in and outside Addis Ababa use to prepare meals especially the special occasion recipes. To buy Berbere, I recommend you buy directly from a contact in your city of residence. Fortunately, more and more spice sellers now have stores online. So you can easily get whatever herb you want without travelling from point A to point B.


As popular as the Berbere is, there is yet one spice that competes fiercely for relevancy among Ethiopia's best selection of herbs and spices. Mitmita is also a blend of other spices. They are made at home, packaged and sold to willing buyers. To get one that is worth your Birr, you should be sure that you know the elements of the Mitmita and determine if the mixture you have is same with what you know the Mitmita to contain. The orange – red coloured spice mix contains Chili pepper, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. The blend is often used to spice raw meat or sprinkled on cooked food. Buying Mitmita should largely depend on what you intend to achieve culinary wise.

Niter Kibbeh

Niter Kibbeh is another name for spiced Ethiopian butter. This spiced butter add some great flavours to our dishes and leaves a sumptuous memory behind. It is made up of fenugreek, onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon and more, depending on the preferences of the seller. Before making your purchase however, it is better you find out the ingredients that make it up and you also have to be sure that the mixture is not more than 3 months old even in refrigeration.

Medicinal Herbs To Cure Varying Degrees of Sickness


This herb belong to the African wormwood family is it is majorly used to cure intestinal disorders, cold and basic sickness in children. If you must buy this kind, ensure that you go specifically for Artemisia Abyssinica and not just any wormwood.


Though Ethiopia can be very hot, it can also very cold and the best cure from herbal products can be found in the Demakese as the herb is great for the treatment of flu related sicknesses such as cough, cold and blisters. It also works to treat basic eye infection when squeezed and the juice applied to the affected eye.


This is popularly known as Aloe Vera in most parts of the world. People use it for different reasons such as acne remover, fever cure, eye treatment, liver and spleen treatment and even more. The fluid-filled Aloe Vera plant will even help to heal wounds easily so that as a herb it covers a wide range of medicinal uses. Aloe Vera is sold cheaply online and can also be planted at home so that anytime you have the need for it, you can easily cut off the quantity you need.


Well, while some throw away the root of their Ginger assuming that it has no value, others count the rhizome of ginger very important as it works very well in treating stomach upset and respiratory issues. This herb can also be used to stop nausea or throw up of the contents of the stomach. Zingibil can be found in stores in Addis and other cities and you can also get them from various stores online.


If you are searching for something for cough, malaria, epilepsy, respiratory challenges like asthma, then Girawa is highly recommended. Traditionally the herb is also thought to be useful to treat "Satan Beshita" or "Devil Disease". When the root is burned and inhaled, Ethiopians believe it cures the disease

There are many other spices and herbs that make Ethiopia one of the largest spice and herbs exporter in Africa such as Mitten Shiro, Korarima, Mekelesha, Koseret, Beso Bela and more. One thing is very vital when shopping for herbs from the market like Merkato or marketplaces online – ensure the mixture smells fresh!