Tena'adam is a spice from the classical Ethiopian kitchen, and one of the components of an authentic Berbere. The leaves of the winter rue have been used against venomous snake bites since Roman times.
T'ēna ādami ጤና አዳም is the Amharic name of the leaves and fruits of the winter rue or Ethiopian rue, also written as Tena'adam or Tenaadam. Tena'adam means 'the health of Adam' and is illustrative of the traditional use of the plant as a medicine.
The leaves, like the berries, are one of the nine essential spices of Ethiopian cuisine. These are: korarima, a type of cardamom, ginger (zinjibel), fenugreek (abish), turmeric (ird), Ethiopian thyme (tosegn), cumin (tikur azmud), cloves (krenfud), black pepper (kundo berbere) and these tena' adam.
The winter rue or Ruta chalepensis is a yellow-flowering plant from the rue family, which also includes citrus fruits and Szechuan peppers. The genus name ruta refers to the rutin in the plant sap, a bitter substance. It is a flavonoid that also occurs in citrus fruits (especially in the peel and seeds), in rhubarb, in tea and onions, and in medication to relax the blood vessels.
In ancient times the rue was primarily a medicinal plant, but around the beginning of our era Apicius already describes how it was used in recipes for gravy, and sauces for hare, fish and birds. Abu Muhammad al-Muthaffar ibn Nasr ibn Sayyār al-Warrāq, author of the earliest known Arabic cookbook Kitab al-Ṭabīḫ (the book of dishes) from the tenth century also used it as a seasoning.
Popular is the use of the leaves in bitters and liqueurs, such as in Croatia in raki, and in northern Italy in grappa (alla ruta). The leaves form with the leaves of the coffee plant (Ethiopia is a coffee country par excellence) 'kutti', coffee leaf tea, a name of Indian origin. Kutti-kal is the name fundamentalist Ghandians gave to coffee, more addictive than beer or wine. It means 'junior alcohol'.
The berries, like the leaves, are used in the preparation of berbere, the famous Ethiopian spice mixture, in which these have become predominant since the discovery of South America and the introduction of chili peppers. Before that, the sharpness of berbere was the sum of sharp ingredients, including the fruit of the winter rue.
Smell and taste
Some of the fragrances and flavors (essential oils) in tena'adam:
- 2-undecanenone, eucalyptus
- 2-heptanol acetate, grassy, citrus
- ethyl butanoate, the flavors of pineapple, cognac
- α-pinene, the aroma of woody pine scent, as in cumin, pine (pine cone), juniper berry and hemp,
- 2-nonanone, cheesy and waxy and sweet, like coconut
- nonen-1-yl acetate, tropical fruits: kiwi, honey melon, pear
- E,E-farnesal, smells of flowers and mint
The fruit, a seed box with four or five lobes, contains about ten edible seeds. The fruit is ground in its entirety for use, and used as a spice or as a rub.
Tena'adam cannot be compared to any other spice. It has a complex aroma in which passion fruit and tropical fruit are recognized, which is why the fruit is also called baies de passion or passionberries. Passion berry is also the name of the Australian bush tomato, hence our preference for the Ethiopian name, which also does justice to the country of origin.
Tena'adam is delicious in combination with shrimps, chanterelles, asparagus, boiled fish and poultry (and the creamy sauce given with it), fried fish, game (hare, deer or boar) and poultry, grilled vegetables and fruits such as pear and mango, and vanilla ice cream
- 100% berries of the Ruta chalepensis
- origin: Ethiopia
- available in glass and pouch (no test tubes)
- glass jar contains 30 grams
- standup pouches with a content of up to 30 to 300 grams
- larger quantities on request
- the jar is available in a tasteful gift box, consisting of a cube box filled with black tissue paper
- for an overview of our gift packaging, please refer to the category gift packaging
- keep your tena'adam in closed packaging
- preferably store in a dark, dry and cool place
- best before August 2026 (08/26)
- this best before date is an indication
Since ancient times, rue has been used to induce menstruation during pregnancy. And that still happens. Hence the advice not to use rue when you are pregnant, and certainly not in high concentrations. The same goes for consuming the leaves..