Need Help With Ethiopian Spices Names
June 11, 2013 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Hi, I have some Ethiopian spices that I wrote phonetically but I don't think I got them right. Can someone help me understand what I have here so I can look them up to see what they're used for?

So this is what they sounded like:

1 - *Sabat Kaman*
2 - *Tanadam*
3 - *Arato*
4 - * Makuku* (or something to that effect) it's basically a woody bark the guy said was used for incense but could also be used in tea.

Thanks for any help with this!
posted by watercarrier to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
According to this, Tena Adam is known in English as rue.
posted by Madamina at 7:58 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

This page also suggests that 'Tena adam' is Rue.

Could 'Kaman' be 'Kemun', which is Cumin (and seems to be used for a couple of other spices too)?
posted by pipeski at 8:01 AM on June 11, 2013

Gernot Katzer's magnificent Spice Pages website features an index of herb & spice names using the Ge’ez script used in Ethiopia.

Regarding no. 2, he renders one name as thee-na ╩ża-daa-me which seems similar: if so, it’s rue. On preview, what they said.

I wonder if no. 4 might be cassia - I was told by a chap from Eritrea (If I recall correctly) that it was used to make tea there.
posted by misteraitch at 8:02 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes -2 is Rue. Here are photos of the other 3 - the black long ones are the Sabat Kaman - here's another shot of them - which seems to be some form of cumin but it doesn't taste at all like regular cumin. The big beige block is the Arato - the dried pods with the stems are the Makuku - sounding like one. To be honest they look like dried pumpkin stems, if that helps any.
posted by watercarrier at 8:20 AM on June 11, 2013

Could your ‘sabat kaman’ be long pepper?
posted by misteraitch at 8:26 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Could the Sabat Kaman be long pepper? The Wikipedia article says it is used in north Africa.
posted by Ery at 8:27 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes! It's Long Pepper! Awesome. Now just the two others. By the way - the *arato* may or not be some kind of resin (hence the block clump).
posted by watercarrier at 8:50 AM on June 11, 2013

Does the arato have any smell?
posted by Ery at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2013

Smell is maybe like myrrh or frankincense.....
posted by watercarrier at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2013

Hi - the resin *arato* is apparently just the pods to name. Please keep this post alive guys.
posted by watercarrier at 5:08 AM on June 12, 2013

This Amharic dictionary has "mak'mak'o" (I think this could also be spelled "maqmaqo") defined as "the yellow, bitterish root of a plant which, together with coriander-seed and onions, is put into butter when melting."

Google seems to think that "maqmaqo" is rumex abyssinicus, which is apparently a plant whose rhizome yields a yellow-red dye that's put in clarified butter to keep it from going rancid.

I am not an Amharic speaker. I am definitely not your Amharic speaker. This is a wild-ass guess and probably wrong but it was fun to concoct.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:15 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Hmm. That wouldn't explain the "woody bark"/"incense" thing, though. That's what I get for cooking up an answer by skimming through the M's in a dictionary...)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:17 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

The appearance isn't much to go on. What do those pods smell or taste like if you grate a little bit off?
posted by Ery at 11:02 AM on June 12, 2013

I'm just tasting the dried *pods* now - kind of sweet, fleshy, maybe like a fruit..slightly reminscent of the consitency of a date but with a bitter aftertaste. I'll soak some overnight and give a report. Maybe this will help solve the mystery.
posted by watercarrier at 1:58 PM on June 12, 2013

I don't think this is a root Now There are Two. This is more of a fruit. Though the name does sound similar to what I heard the guy say.
posted by watercarrier at 2:00 PM on June 12, 2013

As an amendment to my prior comment, it definitely could be a root - Now There are Two. At first I thought it was a fruit because of the consistency - now not sure. Anyway after soaking will take another photo.
posted by watercarrier at 2:07 PM on June 12, 2013

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