Spiced pumpkin in broth (dba zigni)

Celia Brooks Brown makes a spicy Eritrean dish using sweet-fleshed pumpkin - serve it as a chunky soup, with rice or beans
By Celia Brooks Brown
Spiced pumpkin in broth (dba zigni)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the berbere (hot spice powder)

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds, removed from the pod
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 8 small red dried chillies
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp paprika

For the spiced pumpkin in broth

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp berbere (ethiopian spice powder), (see above recipe)
  • 750 g pumpkin, (eg acorn, iron bark or kaboucha), cut into cubes or wedges
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp salt

Tips and Suggestions

this is a delicious and simple way to serve pumpkin or squash but it's important to use the right pumpkin. Avoid jack-o'lantern-style pumpkins and seek out a sweet-fleshed variety such as acorn, iron bark or kaboucha.

Traditionally this dish is eaten with Injera, though it makes a good vegetable side dish and can be served with Pacha Rice, other rice or bean dish. Alternatively, serve it as a chunky soup with a dollop of yoghurt.

Reserve the leftover berbere in an airtight container for later use.


1. For the berbere: toast the cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, fenugreek, coriander seeds and chillies in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until lightly coloured.

2. Leave to cool, then grind in a spice grinder with the ginger, allspice, turmeric, salt, cinnamon and paprika until you have a fine powder. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

3. For the spiced pumpkin in broth: heat a saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil. Cook the onion until tinged with a golden colour.

4. Stir in the ginger and 2 teaspoons of the berbere. Cook until the spice powder turns a shade darker. Stir in the pumpkin and coat with the spices.

5. Add the tomato purée, salt and 500ml of water. Stir, cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft. If you prefer it thicker and less brothy, remove a few pieces of pumpkin and mash until smooth. Return to the pan and stir through. Serve.

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