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Zigni (Beef Stew from Eritrea)

Zigni is a beef stew dish that is very popular in Eritrean cuisine! It is made with tomatoes, red onions, and a special spice blend called Berbere.
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Course: Main Course, stew
Cuisine: Eritrean
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 lb stew beef
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste (about ½ cup)
  • 1 small red onions, finely diced
  • 14 oz can finely diced tomatoes, or 4 fresh tomatoes (finely diced)
  • 2 tbsp Berbere
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • ½ stick unsalted Butter


  • Add vegetable oil to a pot and allow it to heat. Then, add the stew beef, cumin, turmeric, and ¼ cup tomato paste.
  • Add the finely diced onions and the 14 oz can of tomatoes. Stir. Cover and cook on medium heat for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours add berbere spice, garlic, and butter. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.


Recipe copyright The Foreign Fork. For educational and personal use only. 
  • Beef: 2 lb of stew beef
  • Vegetables: Tomato paste, red onion, can of finely diced tomatoes (can also sub fresh Roma tomatoes) 
  • Oils: Vegetable oil, unsalted butter
  • Spices: Cumin, turmeric, berbere spice blend, garlic
  • If you want to keep the recipe from being too spicy, you can always eliminate the berbere spice blend altogether. In this case, I would still add some sprinkles of cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, and cumin. You can omit the cayenne altogether! 
  • To eat the Zigni in a traditional manner, you can also make Injera, a bread that the Eritreans use to scoop up the stew. 
  • If you’d like to try a non-traditional, but also delicious way to eat this stew, you can serve it with the same ingredients you would serve chili with! When I tried it this way, I added sour cream, green onions, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips to the top of my bowl. It was delicious, and also provided my spicy-resistant mouth some sanctuary from the spiciness. 
  • You can make the Berbere spice blend using these instructions, or you can purchase the blend from the spice section of your grocery store
  • The recipe is fairly greasy for Western Taste. If you want a less greasy version of the Zigni, you can use less vegetable oil or even omit the butter altogether! This should help immensely if that is what you’d prefer.
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