People frequently ask us how we create our pickle recipes. For many, it is a surprise to learn that none of them are family recipes, even though we admire those who have preserved their family traditions for generations. As a collection of culinary trail blazers, independent thinkers, and innovative makers, we are inspired by creativity and ingenuity and challenge ourselves to reimagine what has been done before. We approach consumer packaged goods with a chef’s mentality, and we are slaves to the details. We pride ourselves on not just repeating what has been done before, and we get excited about unique ingredients that are not usually, if ever, found in pickle jars. If someone has a good idea for a pickle flavor, we go for it and see what we can yield. From the start of The Real Dill, this has been our iteration process.
We also love good food, and we get inspired by the flavors we discover in cuisines from around the country and international flavors from around the world. This notion has led to the creation of all of our pickle offerings, and most notably, those found in The Passport Series.
We believe that food has the ability to transport us, taking us on a journey around the globe. In 2020, we launched The Passport Series - a series consisting of four extremely limited annual pickle releases, which explores distinctive flavors from cuisines around the world. With the conception of The Passport Series, our pickles with international flavors, Thai Chile Ginger and Spicy Caribbean, transitioned from full-time products to limited releases that we only make once per year. We also added two new global-inspired pickle flavors: Ethiopian Berbere Spice and Vindaloo Curry. For all of The Passport Series releases, we make one batch that yields extremely limited quantities, and when it is sold out, we do not make it again until the following year. Each flavor is available once per quarter per year.
The Passport Series' recipes are centered around international flavors, rather than traditional dill pickle flavor profiles. When it came time to develop new pickle flavors for this series, an Ethiopian-inspired pickle seemed like an obvious choice to us. After all, Ethiopian food has always held a special place in our hearts.
For those who have never had Ethiopian food, it is truly a magical experience that touches all of the senses. The smell of coffee roasting and warm spices fills the air the minute you enter the restaurant. Mountains of food sit on top a huge colorful platter covered in a large array of dishes with vibrant, lentils, stewed meats and vegetables, and unique Ethiopian spice blends, all accompanied by an incredible spongy sourdough bread called injera, which not only serves as the utensil to eat these delights, but also catches every drop of sauce on the platter. You eat with your hands off of the same communal plate, making it more of a shared experience than most any other meal you have ever enjoyed. Plus, the sauce soaked injera make for the best leftovers the next day. It is true food heaven.
After experiencing Ethiopian food for the first time, our co-founder Tyler formed a lifelong obsession with Ethiopian cuisine. He even went to an Ethiopian restaurant for his senior prom! Tyler is a rare Colorado-native, and as he got older, he was introduced to more Ethiopians living in the Denver area. These friendships taught him about Ethiopia as a country and its rich culture and history.
After starting The Real Dill, we always had the idea of making a pickle based off of the flavors found in Ethiopian cuisine. Although we have prepared a few Ethiopian dishes at home, we are by no means experts. When it came time to develop our Ethiopian pickle recipe for The Passport Series, we knew we needed help. Luckily, Tyler knows an expert who was the missing piece to the puzzle.
Tyler met Fetien many years ago and they have remained friends ever since. From their wild barhopping 20s to having children and businesses and far less energy, Fetien has always been a kind-hearted and generous person. When Tyler's son was born, she brought over a feast of injera, gomen, misir wot, doro tibs and more. She has always been an extremely special person and a great friend. Fetien and her business partner opened the first Ethiopian food truck in Denver, as well as a catering company, and eventually a brick and mortar in the Edgewater Public Market called Konjo Ethiopian Food. When we started working on this release, Fetien walked us through flavors and ingredients that could work in a pickle. We truly could not have made this recipe without her instruction and assistance. She even told us where to source the unique spices we needed, which was the key to perfecting our Ethiopian Berbere Spice pickles.
Nothing matches the lively flavors and colors of Ethiopian cuisine, or the warmth it conveys. Our Ethiopian Berbere Spice pickles will take your taste buds on a winding adventure, capturing the deeply vibrant cuisine, and conjuring up the tangy and spicy flavors we love so much about it.
The anchoring spice in our Ethiopian Berbere Spice pickles is Berbere. Berbere is an Ethiopian spice blend that is central to Ethiopian cuisine. Typically Berbere is made up of 12 or more spices. It is used in stews and other dishes to impart a deep flavor, similar to how curry powder is used. Berbere is unique to Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea, and it is the signature flavor of this type of African cuisine. The ground Ethiopian spice blend is fiery hot and bursting with flavor.
Every Ethiopian cook has his or her own version of Berbere spice. Some include nigella seeds, ajwain, and a lesser known spice, korarima, which grows in the wild in Ethiopia. However, there are several key spices such as chiles, garlic, fenugreek, allspice, and cinnamon, which are common to all Berbere blends and attribute to its bright red, highly aromatic, and punchy flavor profile. The powder can also be blended with honey wine or red wine to make a paste called awaze, which is often used as a condiment in Ethiopian cuisine.
So, if you like these remarkable, spicy pickles you have Fetien to thank, and if you are a Denver-local and these pickles move you to learn more about Ethiopian cuisine, then Konjo Ethiopian Food is a great place to start. Konjo Ethiopian Food is located in the Edgewater Public Market and currently open seven days a week.
We hope that these pickles speak to the vibrant culture that inspired them and that they inspire you to learn more about an unfamiliar culture. Thanks again to Konjo Ethiopian Food, and especially Fetien and her business partner, for all of the delicious meals throughout the years and the help with Ethiopian Berbere Spice pickles.
Ethiopian Berbere Spice pickles are truly special, and if you are one of the people who asks if we make spicy pickles, this is a flavor made for you. Click here to grab your jar before they vanish until 2022, or visit our retail locator to find them at a store near you. We do anticipate they will disappear quickly, so get them while you can.