Halebi Biber – or Holla Baby Bear

Hooray! We made it to Hump Day!

And to the letter H.

Today I’m not going to share a recipe. Instead I’m going to share a spice with you.

Sometimes you walk into the grocery store and you look around and you see all the vegetables and fruits and you just think, bleh, I’ve cooked with all of this before!

And it’s true. You probably have made so many eggplant dishes, or roasted potatoes or pasta primaveras that you just can’t imagine another one.

Well, instead of trying to find exotic new produce, how about changing up your flavor profile? How about spicing things up a bit?

Haha. See what I did there?

But seriously.

Changing out your basil and oregano for some smoked paprika and garam masala can give the same ‘ol same ‘ol an exotic new kick.

So I want to introduce you to Halebi Biber.

It’s sort of pronounced like holla baby bear, if you said it really quickly, so that’s become the joke in our house. (See my most on Grape Leaves for the origin.)

I had never heard of this spice until I started cooking with my fiance’s grandmother. It’s a spicy red pepper that gets spicier as it cooks. Yes, I learned that the hard way.


I’m actually going to let my FMIL (future-mother-in-law) tell you about it.

Patty says:

For those who don’t know what “Halebi Biber” is – it’s grounded fresh red pepper that you buy in Armenian/Sirian specialty stores. “Haleb” is really called and spelled Alep or Aleppo and in Arabic they say Haleb. It is a city of northwest Syria near Turkish border inhabited as early as the 6th millennium B.C. Alep was a key point on the caravan route across Syria to Baghdad and later a major center of Christianity in the Middle East. It is now the country’s largest city. I am assuming that [back in the day…] Aleppo “Haleb” must have had the best red pepper for that region so when Armenians use red pepper the name stuck. Halebi (Alep, Seria) and Biber (means pepper)! And there is a little history on where Halebi Biber came from.

So, what can you do with this fun new spice? I keep mine in a a cute little shaker on the counter next to my salt, oil and vinegar. It’s a great addition to a salad dressing.


It adds a nice little kick to soups and chilis. I’ve even used it to season my ground beef when making tacos.