Lysian Beef

4 portions

Ethiopian spicy beef

Irogenia of Lys had many talents and cooking was one of them. This recipe is almost certainly from her Light Blue period, during her stay in Braavos. Nowadays Lysian Beef is most popular in Norvos.


Berbere spice mixture

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

4 tablespoons hot pepper flakes, dried, red (60 ml)

2 tablespoons paprika (30 ml)

1 teaspoon dried ginger

2 teaspoons dried onion flakes

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or flakes)

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon cardamom seed

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beef stew

1 1/2 lbs beef, cut into 1 inch cubes (750 g)

3 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons ghee (or butter or niter kibbeh, which is the real thing)

1 onion, small, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped and crushed

2 teaspoons berbere, spice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 cups beef stock (500 ml, can use water)

2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)


To make the Berbere spice mix: mix all the spices and toast in a dry, hot pan, shaking to prevent scorching. Cool the mixture, then grind into a powder. The small coffee bean grinder attachment often supplied with a processor is ideal for this. Save the leftover spice in a small glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid.

* Berbere can be either a dry or a wet paste, and can be bought ready-made from Ethiopian or speciality food shops.

To make the stew: Add the oil and ghee or butter to a pan over medium heat. (Niter kibbeh, the real thing, is a spice-infused clarified butter which is used as the frying medium for most Ethiopian dishes).

Gently fry the onion until very soft and just about caramelised. Add the garlic, berbere spice, tomato paste and sugar, mix well, and cook until thick.

Add a little of the stock (or water) to make a paste. Add the remaining liquid and the meat cubes, season with salt, and cook gently for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender and the sauce thickened and reduced.

Serve with injera, the Ethiopian flatbread. If correctly made and almost crispy, pieces can be used as eating utensils.

Based on this recipe