Ethiopian Passionfruit Berry Pepper (Ruta Chalepensis)

How to use Ethiopian passionfruit berry? Click here to find out what it is, what it tastes like and also how to use it in Ethiopian recipes!
Ethiopian passionfruit berry pepper piled in a little bowl
Ethiopian passionfruit berry pepper piled in a little bowl
Ethiopian passionfruit berry

Ethiopian Passionfruit berry is an interesting little spice with lemony and slightly bitter flavours.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

What is Ethiopian Passionfruit Berry?

Ethiopian passionfruit berry is the fruit of Ruta Chalepensis, a plant that is native to North Africa and certain parts of the Mediterranean. But it has long been considered a local in many parts of the world, including Ethiopia.

A member of the citrus family, the passionfruit berry plant is a small bush, not growing taller nor wider than a metre (just over 3 feet). It’s a very pretty looking plant though, with bright clusters of flowers on each stem.

These passionfruit berry flowers are bright yellow, with 4 fringed petals on each flower. In Ethiopia, the whole plant is consumed, from the stems to the petals to the fruit.

But for the purposes of today’s post, it is the fruit that we are talking about. The 4 lobed thing in the middle you see? That’s the passionfruit berry or passionfruit pepper.

ethiopian passiofruit berry plant, ruta chalepensis with bright yellow flowers
Ethiopian passionfruit berry plant, ruta chalepensis (source: WikiCommons)

Aroma and Flavour

These Ethiopian passionfruit berries have a very strong aroma of passionfruit, hence their name. But to my nose, there is also a hint of floral tea, in the background.

As far as flavour goes, passionfruit berries are lemony, a little sweet and fruity with a slightly bitter aftertaste. There is also a slightly similarity to Sichuan peppercorns in flavour, without the tingly sensation.

the passionfruit berry fruit when fresh

How to use Ethiopian Passionfruit Berries?

Ethiopian passionfruit berries are a traditional ingredient in the Ethiopian kitchen. It is an important part of Berbere, that fiery Ethiopian spice mix used in so many recipes.

You can also think outside the box for this little berry pepper.

Its lemony flavour makes it a great spice for seafood. Crush it with a pestle and mortar and use it in a marinade, in a sauce or even just sprinkle it over your finished fish, prawns or any other seafood.

They also make a great ingredient in salad dressings and sauces.

I think these Ethiopian passionfruit berries are also wonderful in desserts for just that little bit of exotic flavouring. Think pears poached in white wine, the plain old ice cream and cheesecakes!

the dry passionfruit berry

Where to buy Ruta Chalepensis?

Here in the UK, and I would say the same goes for the US and Australia, your best bet is to go online. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have an Ethiopian store nearby!

Do a Google search for Ethiopian Passionfruit Berry or Ruta Chalepensis, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of suppliers! Unfortunately, this time, I don’t have an Amazon affiliate link for it!

How to store?

The same way you would any of your spices. In an airtight container in a pantry, cupboard or spice cabinet. The flavour and aroma will decrease over time, as with any spice you have.

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed reading this. Let me know if you manage to get hold of it, and how you use it.

Ethiopian passionfruit berry pepper piled in a little bowl

How to use Ethiopian Passionfruit Berry

How to use Ethiopian passionfruit berry? Click here to find out what it is, what it tastes like and also how to use it in Ethiopian recipes!
4.8 from 5 votes
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Course: Ingredients
Cuisine: Ethiopian
Keyword: berbere, passionfruit berry
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 portion
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • 1 pestle and mortar
  • 1 OR spice mill


  • 1 Tbsp Ethiopian passionfruit berry


As an ingredient

  • Place the berries in your mortar and crush it with the pestle coarsely. Then add to your recipe as per instructions.

As a Garnish

  • To use a s a garnish, it's best to grind your passionfruit berries to a fine state. A spice mill would be great for this but pestle and mortar will work too.
    Then sprinkle over your dessert, salad or whatever you may want to finish off.
Discover more Ingredients!Check out The Ingredients Page

2 thoughts on “Ethiopian Passionfruit Berry Pepper (Ruta Chalepensis)”

  1. 5 stars
    A very interesting read. I’m going to see if I can get my hands on them on Amazon. I’ve been wanting to try your berbere recipe for so long!

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