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I’ve been on an Ethiopian food kick again (hence my latest favorite injera recipe that I posted) and with that has come experimenting with spices! I made a batch of Doro Wat (recipe to come) and I wanted to try adding Mekelesha Spice Blend, but couldn’t locate it at my local Ethiopian market, so I figured – why not just make it myself?

The whole spices

What is Mekelesha?

If you’re at all familiar with Indian cooking, Mekelesha is similar in concept to garam masala. It’s a pre-toasted spice blend that includes a lot of “warming” or “sweet” spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. It is a spice blend that is usually reserved as a “finishing spice,” or in other terms, a spice blend that is added at the later stages of the cooking process to round out the flavors of the dish.

And, to me, it has the ability to take a delicious curry to an Ethiopian curry. It is so so delicious.

That being said, it is potent. I am the type of cook who always heavy handedly tosses in “approximately” the amount of spices a recipe recommends, but I definitely urge you not to do that with Mekelesha. A little touch is all you need, and it should be added at the end of the cooking process. And I really urge you not to skip adding this when you’re making Ethiopian recipes.

It really does make your Ethiopian wat recipes pop and make them taste so much more authentic. (Or what I assume to be authentic, based on what I’ve tasted at restaurants in America…. eek! Someone correct me if I’m saying anything wrong here!)

Side view of Mekelesha spice blend in a mason jar

What Spices are In Mekelesha?

It really depends on the cook/ chef, and likely each person who makes Ethiopian cuisine is going to have a slightly different version of Mekelesha. From my searches on this, however, I followed what seemed to be a pretty standard ratio of spices which include Korerima (Ethiopian Black Cardamom – I don’t recommend substitution – you can find them here), Black Peppercorns, Cinnamon sticks, Cumin, Cloves, and Nutmeg.