Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ethiopian Feast (Part 3)

How can I possibly describe how wonderful these curries/stews are? 

The flavours and aromas of Ethiopian food are so unique due to those two special ingredients that were prepared last weekend, Niter Kibbeh and Berbere. The amount of Niter Kibbeh that I used in two of the stews was halved from the recipes. This wasn't due to spice levels as it is the milder component, however I felt that 2 tablespoons of fat per stew was more than enough and this way half of my batch was left-over for another night. As the heat level of the berbere was yet to be determined, I erred on the side of caution and added teaspoons gradually until I was satisfied with the spiciness. 

I made three stews, none of which were particularly complex to put together. After all of the onions, garlic, ginger and vegies were prepped, I made the lentils, followed by the powdered chickpeas and finally the mixed vegies. It is interesting to note that the recipes all begin with an initial step of cooking the onion without any oil until it is softened and then adding the Niter Kibbeh. It feels a bit topsy-turvy when you are so accustomed to heating oil and then cooking onion in it. 

The lentil stew was from World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown, my source for all of the Ethiopian components and the curries/stews. It was the first time I made this one and I probably wouldn't bother with it again which is why I haven't posted the recipe. Unlike the other two, it did not contain any Niter Kibbeh or Berbere. It was nice and had a distinct flavour due to decent amounts of ginger and basil that were included however the other two stews were the stand-outs by a mile.

The stew of spiced powdered chickpeas is definitely the most impressive. For something that contains so little ingredients, it has the most amazing taste. The first time I attempted it years ago, I was shaking my head in disbelief, but was so excited with the outcome. The Niter Kibbeh is the dominant force although I did only use 1/4 of the stated amount of Berbere this time. The mixed vegetable stew is also wonderful and spicy and highly rated in our house.   

The left-overs were on the menu tonight. Although there was no left-over injera to enjoy them with, they were still lovely with some brown rice instead. I have never eaten out at an Ethiopian restaurant, it is something I am particularly interested in doing as I would love to try the injera and their authentic stews.  

Vegan Dad also seems quite enthused about Ethiopian cooking and has several recipes on his blog. I might have to give one of his stews a try next time for something different...

Ye'atakilt W'et (Spicy Mixed Vegetable Stew) (Adapted from World Vegetarian Classics)

1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Niter Kibbeh
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Berbere
1 tablespoon paprika
100g green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
3 small carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
500ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, finely chopped

Heat a large saucepan with a lid over a medium heat and add the onion (without any oil). Cook, stirring until soft. Add the niter kibbeh, garlic, berbere and paprika and cook for 2 minutes. Stir through the beans, carrots and cauliflower until well coated with the onion and spice mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.

Yeshiro We't (Stew of spiced powdered chickpeas) (Adapted from World Vegetarian Classics)

1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Niter Kibbeh
4cm piece ginger, finely chopped or grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Berbere
2 teaspoons nigella (black cumin, kaloonji) seeds 
500ml vegetable stock
1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
salt and pepper

Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion (without any oil) and stir-fry until soft and brown. Reduce the heat and add the niter kibbeh, ginger, garlic, berbere and nigella seeds. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is golden. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Mix the chickpea flour with enough cold water to make a smooth, pourable paste. Gradually drizzle the chickpea paste into the simmering mixture ensuring that you keep stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until very thick. Season with salt and pepper.  


  1. What a feast! I love Ethiopian food. And the leftovers are even better! :)
    How's Jasper doing?

  2. Thanks Vaishali! Ethiopian food is truly wonderful, I really must make it more often...

    Jasper is doing really well, he is able to go for daily walks again which he enjoys so much although they are much shorter than they used to be. He is even more spoilt and loved these days (if that's possible)!

  3. never had ethiopian food - making spice mixes seems so fiddly but you have convinced me I should try it - I love the sound of the powdered chickpea one particularly

  4. Hi Johanna, if you spread the ground work out over a couple of days, it doesn't seem as much work or too fiddly. It's worth the effort IMO!