International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Niter Kibbeh

Filtering clarified butter

(Ethiopian spiced clarified butter)

Image Creative Commons by Larry Jacobsen

Average: 4.1 (42 votes)

Niter kibbeh — a spice-infused, clarified butter — is a ubiquitous cooking medium in Ethiopian cuisine that adds an incomparable flavor to dishes. Plain butter or oil can be substituted in Ethiopian recipes if you don't have the time to make niter kibbeh, but something special will be missing.

Makes about 2 cups


  • Unsalted butter -- 1 pound
  • Onion, chopped -- 1/2
  • Garlic, crushed -- 2 or 3 cloves
  • Gingerroot, cut into 1/4-inch slices -- 2 or 3 pieces
  • Cardamom pods --3 or 4
  • Cinnamon stick -- 1
  • Whole cloves -- 3 or 4
  • Fenugreek seeds -- 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric -- 1/2 teaspoon


  1. Place the butter in a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on the lowest possible heat for about 1 hour.
  2. Pour the clear golden liquid off the top leaving all the solids in the bottom of the pan. Strain through cheesecloth if necessary. Discard solids.
  3. Store in the refrigerator or freezer and use as needed.

Niter Kibbeh Variations

  • For a lower cholesterol version, substitute 2 cups of vegetable oil or a combination of oil and butter.
  • The spices and amounts are not set in stone, so don't worry if you don't have all of them.

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