TESMI is: spiced, clarified butter (GHEE) that’s used in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. It’s made by simmering butter with a variety of spices, including garlic, ginger, and sometimes onions. The resulting product is a flavorful, aromatic fat that’s used to cook all sorts of dishes, from stews to vegetables to meats. It adds a ton of flavor to the food and is an essential ingredient in many Ethiopian and Eritrean recipes.
Tesmi is typically made with butter from cows or goats, and it’s clarified by simmering the butter until the milk solids separate and can be removed. This process results in a clear, golden-colored fat that has a higher smoke point than regular butter, making it ideal for cooking. The spices used to make tesmi vary by region and personal preference, but some common ones include fenugreek, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper.
So, in addition to its use in cooking, tesmi is also sometimes spread on injera (the traditional flatbread of Ethiopia and Eritrea) and eaten as a snack or appetizer. It can also be used as a dipping sauce for bread or as a drizzle for roasted vegetables. And some people even use it as a hair and skin moisturizer because of its nourishing properties! 🧴
It can last for up to a year if stored properly in a cool, dark place. The spices in the tesmi act as a natural preservative, and the clarified butter doesn’t spoil like regular butter. It may even get better with age, as the flavors develop and deepen over time!
The exact spices used in tesmi vary by region and household. Some people use only a few spices, while others use many. It’s really up to personal preference. Some popular spices in addition to the ones I mentioned are turmeric, fennel, nutmeg, and black cumin. And sometimes, people add berbere (a spice blend used in Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking) to give the tesmi a kick of heat!
tesmi has been an integral part of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine for centuries. It’s believed that tesmi originated in the Ethiopian highlands, where cattle were domesticated and where butter was a prized commodity. In the traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean diet, dairy products like butter and milk were valued for their nutritional value, and tesmi was used to preserve butter and add flavor to dishes. It was also considered a luxury item, and it was associated with hospitality and generosity.
Over time, tesmi evolved from being a simple way to preserve butter into a culinary art form. Different regions of Ethiopia and Eritrea developed their own unique blends of spices to flavor the tesmi, and the technique for making tesmi became more sophisticated. Nowadays, tesmi is a staple in Ethiopian and Eritrean households and restaurants, and it’s an essential part of many traditional dishes. Without tesmi, many Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes would simply not be the same.
Tesmi Habesha, East African Seasoned Ghee, The first original “Tesmi” with Premium Dutch Butter