Shiro (Ground-Chickpea Stew)

Shiro (Ground-Chickpea Stew)

Shiro is a simple, silky ground chickpea stew that takes little time and effort to bring together. In Eritrea and Ethiopia, it’s a most beloved and important dish — a vital source of flavor and protein. In those countries, it’s made with widely available shiro powder, a mixture of ground chickpeas, garlic, onion and spices. This version, based on Ghennet Tesfamicael’s recipe published in “In Bibi’s Kitchen,” by Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen, cleverly suggests replacing shiro powder with chickpea flour and a homemade blend of berbere spice. You’ll be transported as your kitchen fills with the aroma of toasting warm spices and ground chilies. Traditionally, shiro is served alongside cooked greens and injera or other flatbreads. But it’s also delicious spread in a thick layer atop sourdough toast rubbed with garlic and finished with slices of tomato and a fried egg.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Prepare the spice mix: Place cinnamon, coriander, fenugreek, peppercorns, cardamom and allspice in a small heavy skillet set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the smell is very aromatic and spices are lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Step 2

    Transfer the mixture to a clean coffee grinder, add the chiles and onion flakes, and grind to a fine powder (or use a mortar and pestle). Transfer the ground spices to a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, and sift. Regrind whatever large pieces remain in the sieve, and add them to the bowl with the ground spices. Add the paprika, ginger and nutmeg. Whisk well to combine, and transfer the mixture to an airtight jar. (Makes about 1/2 cup.)
  3. Step 3

    Prepare the shiro: Place the onion and garlic in a food processor, and pulse until very finely minced, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure even chopping. Set aside.
  4. Step 4

    Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium-low heat. When the pot is warm, add oil, onion purée, 2 tablespoons berbere and a large pinch of salt. Stir to combine, then cover pot, and let aromatics cook gently while you prepare tomatoes.
  5. Step 5

    Place tomatoes in the food processor, and pulse until puréed. Add to onion mixture, and increase heat to high. When mixture boils, reduce heat to low, and whisk in chickpea flour. The mixture will be quite thick, like peanut butter. While stirring, slowly pour in 2 cups water in a thin stream to loosen the mixture. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes smooth and integrated.
  6. Step 6

    Increase heat to medium-high to bring shiro to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes to cook off the raw taste of the chickpea flour and integrate all the flavors. Stir in the jalapeños and season to taste with salt.
  7. Step 7

    Serve immediately. (Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days. Store unused berbere in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.)