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silsi (bowl of eritrean spicy tomato sauce)
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5 from 1 vote

Silsi (Eritrean Tomato Sauce)

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!
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Course: Side Dish, Spread
Cuisine: Eritrean
Servings: 4 servings (1/2 cup each)
Calories: 185kcal
Cost: $0.67


  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil or other neutral oil 50 g; see Note 1
  • 1 large red onion or 2 small 300 g
  • 1 carrot 100 g
  • 1 jalapeño pepper 20 g *optional
  • 1–2 tbsp berbere seasoning use this homemade recipe or a storebought version
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste 15 g
  • 1 large tomato or 1/2 can diced tomatoes 400 g
  • 1/2 head garlic 25 g
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt or 3/4 tsp kosher salt 3 g
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 15 g *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 the onions are lightly caramelized and starting to stick to the pan.
  • Meanwhile, chop the tomato (400g) and mince the garlic (25g), 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.