From what I have found, Ethiopian food is based on spicy stews/curries called wats. The food I have tried is packed full of flavour from the spices they add to their food. Meat is really only eaten on special occasions, most meals are vegetable or legume based.
I never tried injera bread which is the traditional bread to eat wats with. It is bread that is thicker than a crepe but thinner than a pancake. They don't use utensils in Ethiopia, so the bread is the vessel used to pick up the stews. Instead I served it with flat bread, I'm sure not the same, but it worked, I just wasn't sure about following the recipes I found for injera, so I didn't make it. Maybe one day.
What I love about Ethiopian food is that it feeds a crowd, even the way Ethiopian food is served, on a communal platter, is designed for sharing food with each other. Food is not meant to be eaten alone in Ethiopian culture.
I was pleasantly surprised with Ethiopian food, and doing this little adventure with my family has been great. We have tried flavours that if we didn't do this, we may never have tried. I do love that my family have given everything I cooked a chance. They have tried all the new flavours they have been introduced to.
Visiting Ethiopia on our food journey is something I have loved and many dishes I will make again and again.
Niter Kibbeh-Spiced Butter
Doro Wat-Chicken Stew
Sik Sik Wat-Beef Stew
Lentil and Tomato Soup
Eggplant and Tomato Salad
Here is how I made it:
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ tablespoon ground nutmeg
½ tablespoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 tablespoon or more Hot Chilli powder or cayenne pepper, to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl or jar, stir until well mixed, to combine.
Here is how I made it:
450g unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
5-6 fresh basil leaves
Here is a video for the process to clarify butter, that I prefer.
To clarify butter:
Place the butter over a very low heat in a medium sized saucepan. Bring it slowly to a simmer. Turn off the heat. Skim off any white foamy bits that have come to the surface.
Leave to cool slightly so that the milk solids drop to the surface of the saucepan. Once this happens, slowly pour the clear yellow clarified butter from the top into a clean small saucepan, stop when you have nearly reached the white milk solids.
Now to the clarified butter add the onion, garlic, cardamon, fenugreek, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, turmeric and basil leaves. Bring to a slow simmer and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl or jar, and it is ready to use.
Make the berbere spice mix.
Make the niter kibbeh.
1 x 1.5kg whole chicken, you could use marylands or just thighs, if you prefer
3 tablespoons spiced butter
3 medium onions, sliced
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons Berbere Spice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried basil
6 large soft boiled eggs
1-2 Lemons, freshly squeezed (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon plain flour, if needed to thicken the sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut up the chicken into 8 pieces, season with salt and pepper.
In a large pot, over medium heat, heat until hot. Add the spiced butter and onions. Sauté onions, stirring frequently, for about 7 -10 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown.
After the onions are caramelized, add the oil, then add the berebere spice , garlic and ginger.
Stir for about 2-3 minutes, for the flavors to blossom and the mixture has a deep rich brown color. Be careful not to let it burn.
Add the tomato paste, stir through for 30 seconds. Then add the chicken pieces, give it a quick stir through. Then add about 2-3 cups water, just enough to cover the chicken. Add the paprika and basil. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil, simmer for about 40 minutes.
In the meantime, soft boil your eggs. Peel the eggs.
Once the 40 minutes has passed, if your sauce looks to thin at this stage add in a little plain flour mixed with water to thicken it, if it is too thick, you can add a little extra water.
Add in the eggs and lemon juice; thoroughly mix to ensure that the eggs are immersed in the sauce.
Continue cooking until chicken is tender about 10 minutes.
900g chuck steak
1 lemon, juice
2 teaspoons salt
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
¼ cup niter kibbeh, recipe above
2 tablespoons ground paprika
¼ - ½ cup berbere paste made by combining 3 tablespoons berbere spice mixed with 1 tablespoon red wine and 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
¾ cup water or stock
¼ cup red wine
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on taste
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 hard boiled eggs
Rub stew beef with salt and lemon juice. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Melt down niter kibbeh in a large pan. Add paprika to colour the oil.
Add berbere paste and cook for 3 minutes, making sure not to burn.
Add onions, garlic and ginger, cooking for 10 minutes until soft and most moisture is evaporated
Add beef, water, wine and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes until beef is tender and sauce has thickened. Add water as necessary to keep sauce a thick consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Hard boil eggs if using and peel them.
Add eggs to the wat and simmer for 15 more minutes before serving.
5 tablespoons niter kibbeh, recipe above
2 medium onions, chopped medium
7cm knob ginger, minced, about 2 tablespoons
6 medium cloves garlic, minced, about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons berbere spice, recipe above
salt, to taste
455g beef sirloin, cut into 2cm cubes, trimmed of excess fat and connective tissue
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
Fresh coriander leaves, to serve
Rice, to serve
Melt niter kibbeh in a heavy saucepan on medium heat, then add onions, ginger, garlic, and berbere spice. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes, the onions will darken from the spices, but do not burn them. Onions should be at a low sizzle during cooking process. Adjust heat accordingly. Transfer to food processor and blend until not quite a purée. Return to saucepan, season to taste with salt, and keep warm.
Season beef on all sides generously with salt. Heat oil in a 30cm frying pan over high heat high until lightly smoking. Add beef in a single layer, leaving plenty of open space in the pan (brown in batches if you don't have a large enough skillet). Cook without moving until well-seared on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip meat cubes with tongs and cook on second side until well seared. Continue to cook meat, stirring and flipping occasionally until desired level of doneness is reached.
Toss beef with warm sauce, stir in lemon juice, and serve immediately with fresh coriander and rice.
1 cup dry lentils, soaked for 2 hours
1-2 tablespoons niter kibbeh
¼ cup canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons berbere spice
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon coriander or cumin
1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or coriander
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Soak lentils in cold water for hours.
Heat up a large sauce-pan over medium heat, add the spiced butter and oil, then add onion, berbere spice, garlic, ginger, coriander or cumin and smoked paprika, stir occasionally for about 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent.
Then add drained lentils and tomato paste, stir and sauté for about 2-3 more minutes. Add the stock, season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil and let it simmer until sauce thickens, it might take about 30-40 minutes, depending on how you like your lentils. You may need to add more stock or water, if needed, if it thickens too much before the lentils are cooked through, add in 1/2 cup at time, until it has a stew consistency and the lentils are cooked.
Add in some parsley or coriander, taste, for seasoning.
185g (1 cup) brown lentils, soaked for 2 hours
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons berbere spice mix
400g tin crushed tomatoes
2 litres (8 cups) vegetable stock
1-2 potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Berbere Spice Mix:
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons hot paprika
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
Zesty Yoghurt Topping:
90g (1/3 cup) plain yoghurt
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 lemon, zested
Combine all the Berbere spice mix ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well. Set aside in a small airtight container.
Soak the lentils in cold water for 2 hours.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned. If the vegetables begin to stick and brown before they are softened, add a tablespoon of water.
Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the berebere spice mix and cook, stirring, for a further minute, or until fragrant.
Stir in the tomatoes, drained lentils and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30–40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
Add the potato and cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.
Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Serve the soup in individual bowls, with a spoonful of the zesty yoghurt on top.
2 large zucchinis
1 red onion, sliced
2 green capsicums, chopped
2 long green chillies, seeded, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 lemons, juiced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
80ml olive oil
Cos lettuce leaves, red chilli and lime wedges, to serve
Preheat oven to 180C. Place eggplants and zucchinis on a large oven tray. Prick all over with a skewer and roast for 1 hour or until skin is blackened and wrinkled, and the flesh is very tender.
When cool enough to handle, halve the eggplants and zucchinis, and scoop out the flesh, discarding the skins. Chop flesh and place in a large bowl with the onion, capsicums, tomatoes, chillies and parsley.
Whisk together lemon juice, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Season salad with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter, top with eggplant and tomato salad, and serve with chilli and lime wedges.