Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quick Ethiopian curry bowls

Typical serving of Ethiopian food; photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
I love the flavors of Ethiopian food, but because of their meal structure, I basically had to give up Ethiopian restaurants except as an occasional treat. For the uninitiated, Ethiopian food is generally small piles of sautes (called tibs) and stews (known as wat) served with tons of thick injera pancakes. Instead of silverware, you use the pancakes to scoop up bits of cooked food. So it's very much a grain flour based meal, with tiny tidbits of protein. I still love the spices they use, so the only solution is to make my own: my proportions with their flavors.

This is a formula rather than a highly-specific recipe. The idea is that you can use these steps turn whatever animal protein and veggies you have around into a spicy Ethiopian curry. See, I had to order two ingredients that most American households don't typically keep around. I probably wouldn't buy them just for a single recipe, but for Ethiopian-style food on demand, I'll happily place an order. Alternately, you can easily make either yourself.

The first ingredient is niter kibbeh, a spiced version of ghee (clarified butter). I picked it up from Pure Indian Foods. The other ingredient is berbere, a spicy Ethiopian curry powder, albeit it may be more analogous to Southwest-style chili powder than curry. I bought it from Penzeys since I had to place an order anyway. This too you can make yourself. Alternately, if you don't care for spicy food you can substitute turmeric. The flavor will be completely different, but it is an authentic way of making milder Ethiopian dishes.

I'm pretty psyched to have this stuff around, and I'm excited to try it with different meat and veggie combinations!

Serves 2

  • 1 Tbs niter kibbeh
  • Half a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8-12 oz cooked meat, such as ground beef or lamb, cubed chicken, or a shredded leftover roast
  • 3-4 cups quick-cooking vegetables. I used 2 cups of collard greens and 2 cups of cauliflower, both steam-sauteed ahead of time. Other great choices would be baked sweet potato, steam-sauteed carrots, cabbage, or string beans, or raw shredded kale.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1-2 tsp berbere. I used 2 tsp which I enjoyed but it was nose-runningly spicy so be warned. Or substitute 1 tsp turmeric for a different but mild flavor.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, cut into wedges

  1. Melt the niter kibbeh in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add the berbere or turmeric and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  4. Add the meat and vegetables and stir to thoroughly combine.
  5. Add the tomatoes with their juice, bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately reduce heat to low. Serve immediately if you'd like, or cover and simmer longer to meld the flavors. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
  6. If desired, top with hard boiled egg wedges for something that resembles doro wat!


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