Are you ready for the easiest condiment you’ll ever assemble, that will make you look like a wizard in the kitchen? Awaze (ah-WAH-zay) Sauce is a no-cook, flavor-packed dipping sauce/sandwich or wrap spread that’s spicy, fresh, and surprisingly complex. And it comes together with little to no effort.
Awaze Sauce is a long-standing traditional Ethiopian sauce that can be used for dipping, as a flavor base in stews or soups, as a spread, or as a seasoning mix and glaze for roasted vegetables. It all starts with Berbere Seasoning, a spicy-hot blend of peppers and heady, fragrant spices. Berbere has more to offer than just heat; it’s a little bit floral and pungent, with earthy depth, playful sweetness, and some citrusy overtones.
This is a recipe that is nothing if not flexible, and it’s so well established in Ethiopia that every household has its preferred version. Awaze is traditionally made with a sweetened honey wine called t’ej (or t’edj), a kind of mead. This can be very hard to find in the US, so feel free to use red wine, or mead, or beer, or vodka. Or use gin. We chose a gin that’s dry and not too sweet, with some notes of juniper and pepper. Try to avoid overly botanical gins in this recipe, since they will impact the final flavor of the sauce.
We sweetened the sauce with a bit of honey, but you could easily use agave nectar or simple syrup. Again, be aware of what you’re mixing; try not to use distinctively flavored sweeteners, like buckwheat honey or maple syrup. There are only a few ingredients in this recipe so the opportunity to throw the flavor off balance by introducing assertive ingredients that compete with one another is there at every turn. Choose thoughtfully; you can even take a small sample of each ingredient before it goes in to get an idea of how everything tastes, and imagine how smoothly the flavors would incorporate.
Once you’ve settled on your ingredients, stir them all together. That’s it. No cooking, no simmering, no sitting in the fridge for a few hours until all the ingredients mingle. Once you mix the Awaze Sauce it’s ready to go. It makes a fairly thick paste, so you can thin it out with a bit more water if you prefer, or you can enjoy it just as it is. We served ours alongside our Three Cheese Puff Pastry, a delicious, savory shortbread that’s great for a snack or an appetizer. You could also use Awaze Sauce for crudites, on Kofte Kebabs, or on the side of a plate of Doro Wat if you want an extra kick of Berbere’s heat.
- 1 cup Berbere Seasoning
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons gin
- 2 Tablespoons water
1. Whisk to combine.