Chilli peppers are believed to have first arrived to Ethiopia from Portugal, between 1520 and 1770. That they have not always grown here is hard to believe, given how ubiquitous they are on plates across the country. Chilli peppers are the hallmark of the country’s open air markets, most famously in Harar, Addis and Axum. No less, a recent study showed that the average Ethiopian consumes 15g of chilli pepper every single day; more than in any other country in the world.
Three hundred years on, Ethiopia is the second largest chilli pepper producer in the world. Chilli peppers add heat and flavour to a variety of cuisines, from Mexican, to Szechuan, to Indian, and across East and West Africa. GreenPath farmers grow a set of unique chilli varieties that are native to the region, such as Ethiopian Birds Eye and Ethiopian Kariya. Chilli peppers have wonderful health benefits, fighting inflammation, regulating digestion, boosting immunity, and reducing blood cholesterol.
All of our chilli peppers are certified as organic to the EU standard.
ETHIOPIAN BIRDS EYe
The Ethiopian Birds Eye is small but pungent. It is not as hot as the Habanero pepper but has distinctively fruity undertones that will permeate any dish. Birds Eye chillies have many traditional uses across eastern and southern Africa. In Ethiopia and Eritrea, the pepper is dried and ground, combined with other spices such as cardamom seed, fenugreek, cloves, and salt, making a bright red-orange powder called "Mitmita", which is used to add spice to any dish according to preference. In parts of southern Africa, Birds Eye is pureed into popular "Peri Peri" hot sauce, which is used as a condiment for grilled meats and fish.
Ethiopian Kariya is an indigenous Ethiopian chilli variety that has a flavour and spice profile somewhere between a green bell pepper and a Jalapeno pepper. It carries mild to medium heat with an aromatic, earthy flavour. These peppers can be incorporated into omelettes, stir-fries, and curries but are also mild enough to be eaten raw in salads. In Ethiopian cuisine, Kariya peppers are stuffed with a mix of sautéed tomatoes, onions, and garlic and served as the perfect side to any meal.
Spice traders on the streets of Addis, Harar or Axum will tell you the same: the best chillies in Ethiopia come from Mareko. This small region (woreda) in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia is situated within an hour of our flagship site, Butajira. The chilli varieties found here are propagated on the volcanic soil of the Rift Valley, bringing together the right balance of heat and dryness. Larger and milder than mitmita, Mareko chillies are most frequently seen being ordered with a traditional Ethiopian platter, beyanetu, at lunchtime.