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RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review – November 2015

Lindsey Morse
ByLindsey MorseDec 1, 2015 | 10 comments

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - Box

RawSpiceBar Spice of the Month Club
4.1 overall rating
45 Ratings | 26 Reviews

RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch spice blends and recipes that utilize them.

My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - Contents

 The Subscription: RawSpiceBar

The Cost: $6 per month

 The Products: 3-4 freshly ground spice blends from one country or region, enough to create 3 dishes serving 6-10 people.

Ships to: US (with free shipping) and Canada (for an additional fee).

Check out our other RawSpiceBar Reviews or visit the Food Subscription Box Directory for more food boxes!

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - Card

 Each month, RawSpiceBar sends spices from one region or geographical area. This shipment features spice blends from Ethiopia!

This month’s featured spices are: Berbere, Ethiopian Mitmita, and Pumpkin Pie Spice.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - Berbere

Berbere- .4 oz.

Berbere is arguably the most famous Ethiopian spice blend. It’s smoky, spicy, and often used in stews and on meats and poultry. RawSpiceBar’s version is a mix of dried chiles, sweet paprika, coriander, ginger, cardamom, fenugreek, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and black peppercorns.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - Mitmita

Ethiopian Mitmita- .4 oz

Mitmita, RawSpiceBar points out, is likely the second most famous Ethiopian spice. It’s a blend of African birds eye chilis, dried red chiles, cardamom, black peppercorns, and garlic.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - Pumpkin

Pumpkin Pie Spice- .4 oz. 

I’m not sure if Pumpkin Pie Spice is a traditional Ethiopian spice blend, but I’m happy to see it included in this shipment nonetheless. It’s a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, mace, and star anise.


I tried Ethiopian food for the first time about 8 years ago, and it’s since become one of my favorite cuisines. Luckily, I live in a city with a sizable Ethiopian community and a fairly large number of Ethiopian restaurants, so I’m able to indulge in the tasty fare fairly regularly. Despite having eaten Ethiopian food many times, though, I’ve never tried to make it at home. When this month’s shipment arrived, I promptly cleared my dining schedule and made a trip to the grocery store for supplies! This month’s menu features: Berbere Roasted Carrots, Fennel, & Mint, Key Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Stewed Beef), and Pumpkin Spice Dabo Kolo (Ethiopian Pumpkin Spice Ricotta Donuts).

Berbere Roasted Carrots, Fennel, & Mint

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - BerbereRecipe

My favorite local Ethiopian spot has a fantastic range of meaty dishes, but my favorite thing to order is their vegetarian platter. It’s filled with dishes like tomato salad, buttery cabbage, soft greens, and spiced, pureed lentils. I’ve never seen a dish like this featured before, but it sounded fantastic.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - BerberePrepped

I prepared carrots and fennel, tossed them with olive oil and berbere, and roasted them at 400 degrees.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - BerbereDone

When they softened (after about 40 minutes), I removed them from the oven and tossed them with chopped mint.

Key Wat

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - WatRecipe

Wat is a popular Ethiopian meat stew. This particular wat is made by browning stew beef in a dutch oven and then slow-cooking it with onions, garlic, spices, and tomatoes.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - WatCooking

RawSpiceBar recommended cooking the wat for at least an hour, and I ended up cooking mine for nearly two hours to ensure the meat was nicely tender.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - WatDone

Before serving, I shredded the beef using two forks. RawSpiceBar suggested serving the wat and veggies with injera, couscous, or butternut squash puree. For me, this wouldn’t be a true Ethiopian meal with injera (a spongy Ethiopian sourdough bread), so we made sure to pick some up from the Ethiopian market.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - WatPlated

I was SO excited to eat my homemade Ethiopian dishes, but, sadly neither my husband nor I could get through more than half of our meal. Both the Key Wat and the veggies were unbearably spicy. Now, I won’t claim to be a spicy food superstar, but I do like spicy foods, and I consider myself to have a fairly reasonable tolerance for them. Even accompanied with a glass (okay, several glasses) of milk to try and mitigate the burn, I wasn’t really able to enjoy this meal. In theory, I’m fine with a subscription like RawSpiceBar sending potent spicy blends, but I suppose I would have appreciated a warning. (Like: “Hey RawSpiceBar Chefs! Be forewarned that this recipe is VERY spicy. If you aren’t accustomed to popping ghost peppers like gummy bears, you may want to use 1/2 of the recommended spice quantity.”)

Pumpkin Spice Dabo Kolo 

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - DonutRecipe

We finished out our Ethiopian feast with Pumpkin Spice Dabo Kolo, Ethiopian-style doughnuts made with ricotta and served with honey. I love when RawSpiceBar includes dessert recipes, but I often find I’m too full after their entrees to truly indulge in them. Since I couldn’t make it through this month’s main dishes due to the spice level, I was particularly excited (and hungry) for this month’s dessert.

My husband is our resident fry-master, so he stepped in to help prepare this dish. We mixed up the batter from ricotta, eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, and RawSpiceBar’s Pumpkin Spice Blend. (Note: the recipe calls for butter to be added to the batter instead of baking powder, but I believe this is a typo.) 

My husband heated oil in a deep frying pan and brought it up to about 350 degrees. He then added dollops of dough into the hot oil and fried them until they turned golden brown.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - DonutsFried

When they were done frying, he transferred them to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. To serve, we dusted them with powdered sugar (a la beignets!) and served them with a side of warm honey.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review November 2015 - DonutsPlated

 Happily, the doughnuts were delicious (and not at all spicy)! The ricotta lent them a lovely, moist consistency, and they were crispy on the outside and soft and spongy on the inside. They were great on their own and even better with the honey.

Verdict: I was so excited for this month’s RawSpiceBar, and I’m disappointed that two of the dishes were too spicy for me to enjoy. As I mentioned previously, I don’t have a problem with a spice subscription sending blends and recipes for spicy dishes (I like spicy foods!), but I think that the berbere and the mitmita were SO spicy that they should have come with an accompanying warning and perhaps instructions for creating a milder version of the recipes. I also find it strange that I eat Ethiopian food pretty regularly and that I’ve never encountered dishes as spicy as these. Luckily, I did have better luck with the dessert recipe. This month’s dishes aside, it’s a little disappointing to see that the recipe cards are still being sent with typos. (There was a mistake in the doughnut recipe and “roasted” is misspelled in the title of the roasted carrot dish.) This has been a regular and ongoing problem for months now, and I think it’s a little sloppy that the problem has not yet been addressed.

What do you think about RawSpiceBar’s Ethiopian Box? Did you make the ricotta doughnuts? Where you better able to handle the spicy main dishes?

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Lindsey Morse
Lindsey Morse

Lindsey is a professional baker, cold brew coffee addict, and rosé aficionado who loves writing about food and wine. When she’s not sharing her love of subscription boxes with the world, you’ll find her in the podcasting studio, perfecting her cake decorating techniques, or cursing her way through the New York Times daily crossword puzzle. 

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When do these usually arrive? I can’t seem to find that info anywhere. I’m anxious to try this subscription!

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BTW, if you click on my name you can go to “my” recipe for t’ibs wet (or stewed beef).

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Awesome review! I always wait to see how your meal turns out before I cook mine…. clearly that was a good move this month. It always helps me to see how it actually looks before I dive in. Thanks!!

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Emily S.

This month was a bummer for me. I was excited because I love Ethiopian food and haven’t tried making it at home before, but the main dish was so spicy that my boyfriend and I couldn’t enjoy it. It definitely needed a warning or some way to reduce the fire with additional ingredients or less spice blend. Even if I could have handled the heat (I typically love spicy food) I am still disappointed because the spice blends did not represent the flavors that I associate with Ethiopian food. I haven’t tried the dessert yet and I’m not sure if I will. As others have mentioned, I, too, am tired of the typos.

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I usually like spicier foods than my husband but for some reason he was able to handle it better than me in the spicy beef dish. But my son, husband, and myself all agree that it would have been better with less of the spice. The doughnuts turned out wonderfully.
This is still one if my favorite subscriptions.

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I was also really excited to get this month’s spices, and I’ve been dying to try the recipes, but simply haven’t had the time. Now I’m glad I didn’t and that I saw your review first. I can handle spicy foods, but it sounds like this would have been too spicy for me. I’ll have to cut back on the spices when I make my dish.

I’ve been really annoyed with Raw Spice Bar’s website, customer service, and their issues with their subscription. I continued for next month because of the Black Friday deal, but I may not continue after that. I love getting new spices and recipes each month, but this si becoming too much of a hassle.

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My boyfriend and I absolutely loved the main dishes, but we both have very high spice tolerances. I agree that it was probably too spicy for the average person and that RawSpiceBar probably should have mentioned something, but I personally can’t complain! On the other hand, I didn’t like the donuts on my first try (I halved the recipe). I think I had my oil too hot and the middles were at risk of burning while the insides were undercooked. On my second try (fry! ha!) I kept a closer eye on the thermometer and they turned out better, but I still wasn’t in love with them. To each their own, I guess 🙂

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Love and appreciate your thorough reviews Lindsey! Thanx so much!!

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We used lentils instead of beef (obviously). I am glad they put up a vegetarian recipe before the spices arrived this month, instead of me having to wait for a few weeks like usual.

I could take the spiciness but my fiance couldn’t. I drank a lot of milk with it, too. And kept the Kleenex box nearby because it really cleared my sinuses… Whole Foods wanted like $6 a bulb for fennel so we bought it at Publix but it was still expensive there. And it was kind of tough. We have a Sprouts opening soon so I have my fingers crossed that they will have some good stuff. But I guess for a one-time purchase, it isn’t so bad, and we got two days’ worth of food out of it all.

I also noticed the typos this month. They really need to work on that.

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Thanks for the warning on the spice level Lindsey! I haven’t made this month’s recipes yet, so I’ll make sure to cut the amount of spice by at least half. I agree that RSB still has quite a few issues with their typos – I’m surprised they haven’t figured out how to proof read their copy. But for the price, I’m still enjoying getting new spice blends and recipes to try out each month, so I’m staying with them.

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