Eritrean Beef Zigni

Serves 4

| Prep Time: 15 mins

| Cook Time: 1 hr 45 mins

| Total Time: 2 hrs

You may need: Dried Garlic Powder

Discover The Recipe

This recipe for Eritrean Beef Zigni, a tomato based stew that is the national dish, is simple to make and showcases the marvelous East African spice blend Berbere. Eritrea is a country on the Red Sea in the Horn of Africa that is known for the kindness of its people and (unfortunately) for being at war for decades. Neighboring Sudan, Djibouti, and Ethiopia with a vast shoreline that faces the Arab world, Eritrea is a land of contrast that is said to feel African while being entirely distinct from its neighbors. Eritrea was an Italian colony in the late 19th century. Its capital city’s stunning collection of modernist Italian colonial architecture from the 1930’s and early 40’s is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city lies at nearly 8000 feet in elevation and is one of the highest altitude capitals in the world. Elements of Italian culture permeate, but you won’t feel like you’re in Europe. 

Berbere is made from toasted spices ground with chilis and provides a spicy heat up-front, rounded with alluring notes from the cardamom and cloves, and finished with a subtle maple- bitter note from fenugreek. Cook it in oil first to “bloom” the flavor and season all your favorite stews and soups or experiment with it as a dry rub or garnish on everything from meats to avocado toast. 


  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

  • 1 lb beef, cubed (stew cuts like chuck are best)

  • 3 tsp salt, divided

  • 1 tsp pepper

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, diced

  • 1 tsp ginger, diced

  • 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and sliced (optional)

  • 2 Tbsp Piquant Post Berbere 

  • 1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes

  • 2 cups water

  • Cilantro, leaves picked and chopped

  • Fresh pita (or crusty) bread


Beef stew meat typically comes from the large shoulder of a cow, more commonly called “chuck”. When purchasing beef stew meat at the store, it can often be a mixture of bits and pieces left over from cutting up larger cuts of meat into steaks and roasts. Chuck is a tougher cut of meat, making it best for slowly cooked recipes, like this one.

Be sure to leave plenty of time for this dish to simmer. Low and slow is the name of the game! With plenty of patience, the meat will come out very tender and delicious.

Optional ingredients add a little character and flavor but don’t sweat it if you don’t have them.


Season the beef cubes with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Over Med-High heat, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven, or flat bottom pot. Place the beef in the dutch oven, sear for 2-3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pot, heat remaining olive oil. Add onions then stir fry for 3- 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and red bell peppers and stir fry for 2-3  more minutes. Add Piquant Post Berbere spice, and stir fry for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add beef back to the pot with full can of tomatoes and water. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ~1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the lid and simmer for another 30 minutes, until the sauce is reduced.

Serve with fresh pita or crusty bread and garnish with cilantro!

Alternatives & Substitutions

  • Substitute chicken or tofu for the beef stew meat. However, do not slow cook the chicken/tofu. Cook separately, and add into the stew just 3-5 minutes before serving. Cook the stew with lid off for about 30 mins to reduce the liquid.

  • Try using our Berbere in our flavorful Ethiopian Chicken with Lentils, a refreshing  Tanzanian Spicy Slaw, or our lovely vegan Berbere Braised Sweet Potato.

  • For other recipes, try a Berbere Meatball Stew, add to hummus or dips, or use as a spice rub for your favorite grilled fish.

  • Be sure to leave comments and feedback on your meals and experiments in the comments for others to read.

  • Post pictures of your masterpiece meal on social media and tag us. We repost!

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