Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bread Baking Babes: Ethiopian Dishes to Serve with Injera

Ethiopian food is spicy, for the most part. Almost all the dishes call for a spice combination called Berbere and a spiced clarified butter called Niter-Kebbeh. This spiciness is offset by the injera and by alternating mouthfuls of the stews and curries with a cottage cheese called Ayib Be Gomen.

If you make the Berbere and Niter-Kebbeh a few days before you want to make the full meal, it will take you about 4 hour to make two of dishes below. I suggest doing the Ayib Be Gomen the night before and allowing it to chill and set up completely. Do the Injera last.

To serve any of these dishes, with the exception of Ayib Be Gomen which is served in a separate bowl, you will need a platter or large dish (I used a 12" dinner plate) covered with injera. You then arrange in a circle, starting with the spiciest dishes on outside and the least spicy on the inside, spoonfuls of the curries and stews. Put a basket of rolled injera and the Ayib Be Gomen along side. I also provide a lap napkin and a finger napkin and finger bowl of water for each setting.

Table etiquette for eating Ethiopian is:
1. You always use your right hand,
2. When you want something from the other side of the platter you ask for the person closest to what you want to "turn the platter" and only after also inquiring if that is OK
3. If you are taking the last of anything, ask if anyone else wants the last bit.
4. Use the Injera that is not under the food first, then use the platter Injera, starting with the Injera not covered. (BTW, the Injera under the stews/curries is the best part)

If you really want to be authentic, eat on the floor with the platter on a low table.

Serve Ethiopian with either cold Tusker (beer from Kenya), Harar (beer from Ethiopian) or other African beer, red wine, or water.

One last thing fenugreek is really an important spice in Ethiopian food. There really isn't a substitute for it either. If you can't find it, just leave it out. The food you make will still be delicious.

Have fun!


2 sticks butter (16 ounces), unsalted
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, grated,peeled,fresh
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 cardamom seeds, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves, whole
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 tablespoons fresh basil or dried basil

In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter and bring it to bubbling. When the top is covered with foam, add the other ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Gently simmer, uncovered, on low heat for about 45 minutes or until the surface becomes transparent and the milk solids are on the bottom.

Remove from heat and pour the liquid through a cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container. Discard the spices and solids.

Covered tightly and store in the refrigerator. Niter Kebbeh will keep for up to 2 months.

Note: A good quality olive or other oil may be substituted for the butter.


Note: This is the "heat" in all recipes. If you don't like it really spicy, reduce red chili pepper flakes to 1/8 cup. Or you can leave it out all together to make it not spicy at all.

1/3 cup red chili pepper flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Store mixture in an airtight container.

Ayib Be Gomen

1 1⁄2 lbs. collard greens, stemmed and
roughly chopped
1 lb. cottage cheese
1 1" piece peeled and sliced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. Niter-Kebbeh
1 small yellow onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add greens. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain in a colander; press with bottom of a ladle or measuring cup to extract liquid. Finely chop greens; set aside.

2. Put cottage cheese into a strainer over a bowl; let drain.

3. Combine ginger and garlic in a mini food processor with 3 tbsp. water; purée. Set paste aside.

4. Heat Niter-Kebbeh in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, 6–8 minutes. Add ginger–garlic paste; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 3–4 minutes.

5. Add greens and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until hot. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool; stir in cottage cheese.

Wot/Wet (Stew)

This is the base recipe for any type of stew you want to make: chicken (Doro), Beef (Key), lamb (Yebeg), Lentil (Yesmir), or Vegetable (Yetakelt)

Serves 4

I used boneless chicken thighs in my chicken version. Much nicer than pulling the meat off the bones, which is what is used in restaurants, while trying to handle it with a piece of Injera.

Stew Base:

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons berbere
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons niter kebbeh
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 16oz can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
black pepper

For Doro (chicken), Key (Beef), or Yebeg (Lamb): 1 lb meat, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

For Yetakelt(Veggie):
1/2 cup green beans, cut into thirds
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1/2 cup potato, cubed
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1/2 cup cabbage, roughly chopped

For Yesmir:
1 cup red lentils, rinsed


In dutch oven or stock pot: Saute the onions, garlic, berbere, and paprika in the Niter Kebbeh for 2 minutes.

Add the meat or veggies, continue to saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Skip this step if making Yesmir Wot (Lentil Stew)

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and the vegetable stock (and Lentils if making Yesmir Wot)

Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are tender and the stew is thickened.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ethiopian Lentils with Yam
Note: This is a very mild dish

1 small onion, diced
3 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 small sweet potato or yam, diced
1/2 red sweet bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoon niter kebbeh
1/4 cup lentils (split red), rinsed
1-2 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
salt and black pepper

Saute the onion, garlic, ginger and yam in niter kebbeh at medium heat until the onions are almost translucent. Add the red bell pepper and saute for an additional minute. Add the lentils, tomato paste and water. Bring water to a boil.Add the paprika, coriander, allspice, fenugreek and ginger.Lower heat slightly and allow the stew to simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender and all the water absorbed. Add salt and black pepper as needed, and serve.

Eggplant Salad

2 medium eggplants, peeled, diced
Salt, Pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cup cooked black-eyed peas
2 teaspoons sugar

Place the diced eggplant in a bowl. Mix the salt and lemon juice together and pour over the eggplants. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle on the oil and toss well. Gently stir in the garlic, beans, and sugar. Season with black pepper.

Prunes With Almonds and Raisins

1 lb. (450 gr.) soft prunes, pitted
2 cups dry red wine
½ Cup sugar
2 oz. (50 gr.) each peeled chopped almonds and seedless raisins
1 ½ t cinnamon
3 whole cloves

In a saucepan mix the prunes, almonds, raisins, cloves, wine, cinnamon and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the flame and continue cooking and stirring until the mixture thickens. Remove the cloves and transfer the other ingredients to a medium sized dessert dish. Place the dish in the center of the table and serve hot with small dessert spoons so that each guest may help him or herself. Ideally served with mint tea or strong Turkish coffee.