Last week, Slow Food Santa Fe offered a cooking demonstration and lunch by Ethiopian-born Almaz Tesfamichael. Almaz was charming and lunch was absolutely delicious. This was a good introduction to Ethiopian food for those who were not familiar with it and for those of us who like it and rarely get to eat it it, a treat to savor.
Chicken Doro Wat, Lamb Berbere, Gomen Wat served on Injera , the traditional Ethiopian bread made with Teff flour
Almaz demonstrated cooking injera and if you think you would like to try making this unique bread, I recommend a small book , Ethiopian Kitchen .You Can Make Injera. the book is published by Ethiopian Bridges publishing and available from Amazon. The instructions are very clear and proceeds from the book support Clinic at a Time which is devoted to improving health in Ethiopia "one clinic at a time."
Here are some recipes for the foods we were lucky enough to eat.
This spicy chicken stew is the national dish of Ethiopia. The sauce is thin--all the better to soak into injeera or rice. A cut-up whole chicken would be more authentic, but for ease, use boneless chicken thighs when feeding a crowd.
- 2 medium red onions, diced
- kosher salt
- 1/4 cup Niter Kibbeh (spiced butter) or ghee
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon berbere or to taste
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
- 3 pounds boneless chicken thighs or for a more authentic version, one 4 to 5 pound chicken cut into 10 pieces
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- juice of 1 lime
- 4 hardboiled eggs peeled
- rice pilaf seasoned with turmeric
Pat dry and salt the chicken thighs and set aside.
Combine the onions, a pinch of salt, and half the spiced butter or ghee in a Dutch oven over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion are golden, 15 minutes. Add the remaining spiced butter and the spices. Cook about 10 more minutes or until the onions are meltingly soft and take on the color of the spices. Add 2 cups stock and the chicken pieces, bring to a slow simmer and cook 15 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup stock and the red wine. Simmer again for 10 minutes.
When the chicken is done, gently stir in the lime juice, Halve the eggs and gently simmer another 5 minutes or until eggs are heated through. Be careful not to smash the eggs. Adjust the seasoning, adding salt if necessary.
You can make this ahead and gently reheat.
(adapted from Marcus Samuelsson. The Soul of a New Cuisine.)
Ethiopan Spiced Clarified Butter (Niter Kibbeh)
(yield: 1 cup)
Niter Kebbeh is a clarified butter similar to ghee and it's simple to make on your home stove. By separating the butterfat from the milk solids and water, what you're left with is a rich, creamy cooking fat with a higher smoke point and a longer shelf life. Seasoned with aromatics and spices, the Ethiopian version lends depth of flavor to slow-cooked stews like doro wat, braised vegetables and sauteed meat.
Use the versatile butter when cooking eggs, vegetables, sauces and more. You can use it as a shortcut to flavor simple lentils or sauteed greens like kale, and drizzling on popcorn. You can also brush injera flatbread with melted niter kibbeh, sprinkle with it with berbere and bake in the oven for out-of-this-world Ethiopian spiced chips.
- 1 pound butter
- 4-5 cloves garlic,minced
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Optional additional spices:
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or nigella seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 clove
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. As foam rises to the top, skim it off with a spoon. If it rises too much as if it is going to boil over, lower the heat.
Continue simmering gently until there is no more foam, about 30 minutes. It is done when the butter is clear on top and the solids sink to the bottom. Remove from heat.
Place a strainer over a heat-proof bowl and line it with cheesecloth or a coffer filter. Pour the butter through the strainer and discard the solids. Strain as many times as necessary to achieve a completely clear butter with no residue or spices.
Let the butter cool slightly and pour it into a jar or other container. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to two months or freeze for a longer period.
Lamb with Berbere (Lamb Bage Wat)
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 lb. lamb, cubed
- 2 TBS. Berbere
- 2 TBS spiced butter
- 1 tomato, chopped
Saute the onions in the butter until golden brown over low heat.
Add Berbere and stir (cooking berbere makes it milder. Add chopped tomato.
Simmer over low heat until the meat is cooked. This should take approximately 30-45 minutes.
(recipe from Almaz Tesfamichael)
Berbere is a red pepper spice mixture and a key ingredient in Ethiopian cooking.
- 2 tsp whole cumin
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp cardamom seeds
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 8 whole peppercorns
- 6 allspice berries
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the whole spices and toast, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes. Cook until you can smell the spices. Do not burn. Remove from the heat
Put the spices into a spice or coffee grinder and grind to a powder.
You can make the Berbere as spicy as you like by increasing the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne.
(Rachel Pambrun. Ethiopian Cookbook. A Beginner's Guide. The book is available from amazon and proceeds from its sale help to support projects that provide water, agricultural supplies and training to Africans in need.)
Part of the proceeds Almaz's demonstration go to support a well building project in Eritrea, The Enda Abona Monastery Project. I am impressed that all of the Ethiopian resources that I have used here contribute financial support from the sale of their books or products to help those in need. In these turbulent and often cynical times, I find this a strong note of hope.