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Here's a simplified version of our favorite tartare, inspired by our time in Ethiopia. Kitfo can also be cooked and has its own unique names - tire, leb leb, geba yale and yebesele - according to the degree of cooking. It is traditionally eaten with your hands using tef crepes and braised green cabbage leaves. We serve it with lettuce. A little advice: make a lot of spiced butter; it's great to cook with and keeps for a long time.

Spiced clarified butter

⅓ cup clarified butter

¼ tsp oregano

¼ tsp turmeric

2 cardamom pods
½ tsp fenugreek

1 sliver cinnamon

2 allspice berries

1 pinch thyme

¼ tsp dry ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

1 scallion, minced


1 ½ lbs top round beef

1 tbsp Mitmita pepper

1 tbsp Royal Berbere

Salt, to taste

Fresh jalapeño for garnish

12 basil leaves

Lettuce leaves for serving


  1. 1

    Put clarified butter in a small pot. Coarsely grind dry spices; add to the pot along with garlic and scallion. Heat on low for a few minutes; remove from heat when the butter start to smell and the garlic begins to color. Let stand 10 minutes. Filter through a fine mesh sieve or paper coffee filter. Wipe the pot with a paper towel.

  2. 2

    Cut meat into 1 to 1 ½-inch cubes then chop, not too finely, with a knife. If you use a food processor, chop the meat in 3 batches until fine but not minced.

  3. 3

    Grind chile and spices finely in a mortar. Place the strained butter in the pot and warm gently. Add ground spices, beef and salt. Mix well and serve raw if you want a tire kitfo. Otherwise, continue to cook to leb leb, geba yale or yebesele (rare, medium or well done).

  4. 4

    Garnish with chopped jalapeño and basil. Serve with lettuce leaves to make little rolls.