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silsi (bowl of eritrean spicy tomato sauce)

Silsi (Eritrean Tomato Sauce)

5 from 2 votes
Course: Side Dish, Spread
Cuisine: Eritrean
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings (1/2 cup each)
Calories: 190kcal
Author: Kelly
Cost: $0.67
Put an Eritrean spin on meals with silsi, a spicy tomato sauce seasoned with berbere. Perfect if you want to bring some extra heat into your tomato recipes!
Print Recipe


  • ¼ cup sunflower oil or other neutral oil (see Note 1)
  • 1 large red onion or 2 small
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (*optional)
  • 1–2 tbsp Homemade Berbere Spice (or use any storebought version)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large tomato or 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ head garlic
  • ½ tsp fine salt or 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (*optional)


  • Shred the onion, carrot, and jalapeno pepper using a grater or food processor (I find that this gives me a better texture than dicing; it's important to get the veggies chopped very fine but but not puréed).
  • Pour 1/4 cup oil into a saucepan on medium heat, then add the shredded veggies. Sauté for around ten minutes or until lightly caramelized and starting to stick to the pan.
  • Meanwhile, chop the tomato and mince the garlic, or pulse together in a food processor.
  • Add 1–2 tbsp berbere seasoning and 1 tbsp tomato paste to the saucepan and sauté for another minute, then add the chopped tomato and garlic, along with salt and black pepper.
  • Lower the heat to minimum and simmer, uncovered, for 30–45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom.
  • When the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce is a nice thick consistency, remove from heat and squeeze in 1 tbsp lemon juice.


  1. Oil: Any neutral-tasting oil is fine for this recipe.
  2. Berbere: Start by adding 1 tbsp of berbere seasoning, and then add more to taste near the end of cooking, if you would like a more heavily-spiced sauce.


Calories: 190kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 464mg | Potassium: 513mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 5128IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2mg