Ethiopian Berbere Meatball Stew Recipe

Ethiopian meatballs with berbere spices cooked in a tomato sauces with couscous, chickpeas and spinach

Meat Dishes | November 6, 2020 | By

Ethiopian berbere meatball stew is just what the cold and wet weather of the past few days call for. The meatball is prepared with warming Ethiopian spice blend, and cooked in a rich tomato sauce with couscous, chickpeas and spinach. It is delicious, comforting and very filling.

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Ethiopian berbere meatball stew is easy to make, and the berbere spice mix just adds an amazing depth of flavour. There are no hard and fast rules here, you can add whatever catches your fancy to the stew. Substitute the couscous for rice or quinoa. Replace the chickpeas and spinach with vegetables of your choice. Just use what you have and enjoy this one pot wonder, with Ethiopian spices

Meatballs stew is a very versatile comfort food. You can spice up your meatball however you like or with whatever spices you have in your pantry – I opted for Ethiopian spices this time, but could be using Italian spices next time. Once you have the meatballs, you can add anything you like. I like to make sure there are vegetables and a source of carbohydrates. It should be a complete meal prepared in one pot.

Ethiopian meatballs prepared with berbere spices, cooked in tomato sauces with couscous, chickpeas and spinach

I hope this recipe inspires you, but feel free to experiment with what you like. Please drop me a comment to let me know what you tried and how it went.

If you like berbere spices, then you should also try this berbere chicken pasta.

How to Make Ethiopian Berbere Meatball Stew

I like my stews thick and this Ethiopian meatball stew is quite thick. If you prefer a thinner stew, just add more water. The size of the meatball is also a matter of personal preference, although I prefer a smaller meatball size for stew recipes.

As usual, I made my own berbere spice mix, as I prefer to, but you can buy berbere from the spices aisles of your local supermarket. If you’re making you own spice blend, watch out for the ground fenugreek. It has an amazing aroma, but tastes bitter when too much is used. You only need a little of this spice.

This stew is will keep in the fridge for a few days and is suitable for the freezer, so you can make more than you need.

Ethiopian meatballs with berbere spices cooked in a tomato sauces with couscous, chickpeas and spinach

Ethiopian Berbere Meatball Stew

Abi Olayiwola
Delicious and comforting meatballs prepared with warming Ethiopian spice blend, and cooked in a rich tomato sauce with couscous, chickpeas and spinach.
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine African, East African, Ethiopian
Servings 4
Calories 551 kcal


Berbere Spice Blend

  • 3 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon Onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fenugreek

Berbere Meatballs

  • 250 g Mincemeat
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 tablespoon Berbere spice mix
  • 20 g Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Egg
  • 3 tablespoons Oil
  • 1/2 cup Onion frozen or half, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Berbere spice mix
  • 1 can Tomatoes 400g
  • 1 cup Stock
  • 1 can Chickpea
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup Couscous
  • 2 handfuls Baby spinach


Berbere Spice Mix

  • Combine the spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly

Berbere Meatballs

  • Pour the mincemeat, salt, 2 tablespoons Berbere spice mix and breadcrumbs in a bowl.
  • Break an egg, mix it and pour half into the bowl.
  • Mix the content of the bowl with your hands.
  • Roll into small sized balls and place on a tray.
  • Heat the oil in a sauce pan under low heat.
  • Add the meatballs into the pan, making sure they are not too close. Allow to brown and turn over gently so both sides are seared. You may need to do this in more than one batch depending on pan size.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a plate.

Berbere Meatball Soup

  • Add the onions into the pan that was used to fry the meatballs. Add a little oil if more is needed.
  • Fry the onions until translucent, then pour in the garlic and one tablespoon Berbere spice mix. Stir continuously for 30 secs.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, chickpeas and salt. Stir, then add the meatballs.
  • Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 10 mins.
  • Reduce the heat to very low. Stir the couscous into the pan and leave for 5 mins.
  • Stir in the spinach, remove from heat and leave for another 5 mins for the couscous.
  • Serve.


Calories: 551kcalCarbohydrates: 92gProtein: 14gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 1355mgPotassium: 488mgFiber: 11gSugar: 45gVitamin A: 2408IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 6mg
Keyword Meatball stew
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  1. Just another home cook

    December 26, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    5 stars
    Thick, it most certainly is! Between the chickpeas and couscous, this is a solid stew. What I liked most was the ratio of meatballs to other-stuff; this probably depends on the size of the meatball, but it’s nice to get a hearty amount of meat in each serving scoop. I liked the spice blend (although mine lacked fenugreek, not being at my local supermarket), and I could definitely see this recipe as a good base for using up odd-ball melanges and spice rubs that otherwise get shoved in the back of the pantry.

  2. Belle

    February 25, 2021 at 10:49 am

    5 stars
    10/10. Was looking for a flavourful way to use up my berbere spice mix. Kids loved it. Thank you Abi!

    • Abi Olayiwola

      March 3, 2021 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you very much. I’m glad you like it.


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