Dec 5, 2013

Essentials for Ethiopian cooking (in America)

A friend of mine (and reader and commenter on this blog) suggested I write a post (to go along with my post about how to make Niter Kibbeh) about what you need to have on hand for Ethiopian cooking. I am also going to give a simple runthrough on how to make Doro Wat (a favorite dish of Ethiopians) and easy, americanized injera, and the more authentic, lengthy, but stil-not-hard version of injera as well.

So, what you should have lying around if you want to cook Ethiopian food:

1) red onions. Lots of them. Like, a dozen. I'm not kidding.
2) fresh ginger
3) fresh garlic
4) Berebere Spice. You can get this at an african market (if you have one locally) or you can buy it on for a very reasonable price.
5) Paprika. Large quantities, not those tiny spice jars. We buy bulk at Winco--it's just fine.
6) Garam Masala spice. OK, this is my shortcut. They *say* to use things like cinnamom, cardamom, tumreric etc but all those spices exist in Garam Masala and I've found if I use a corresponding amount of Garam Masala to cover the amounts of all these separate spices listed in many authentic recipes, it works pretty well.
7) ground Cardamom. In some recipes this is called by the ethiopian name "Korerima."
8) oil, or if you're really doing it right, Niter Kibbeh. Which you can easily make. It's not hard, it just takes time to melt on the stove.
9) if you can, you should have teff flour. If you want you can get the teff grain (find in any grocery store with the specialized flours) and use a coffee grinder or blender or flour mill to grind it to flour. But if you don't have teff flour, substitute buckwheat flour.

Doro Wat (chicken stew):

8 red onions, diced up tiny. I use a food processor.
1 cup Niter Kibbeh.

Simmer these together until the onions are nice and soft. Add:

1/2 cup berebere (you can vary the amount if you are serving people who aren't used to spicy foods. I'd start with maybe 1/4 cup or even 1/8 cup if you're really worried, and move up from there.)
1/4 cup paprika

Stir in & let these spices cook with the onions for a couple of minutes.

add: 2-3 cups water (so onions don't stick as they continue to cook down & soften)
a couple tablespoons of Garam Masala
a tablespoon of Cardamom

and 1 whole chicken (gutted and cleaned of course). I found that putting the whole chicken in the pot to simmer with the berebere-onion stew gives the dish a much rounder, better flavor. Having the marrow leach into the stew from the bones, etc.

Usually after letting it simmer for an hour or so i'll take the chicken out and divest the bones of meat, make sure it's torn into small, cooked chunks and put the meat back into the stew to cook until it's dinner time. I like to let this dish cook several hours. the longer, the better--the more the spices and onions and chicken and everything all seem to combine and be perfect.

Easy (quick) Injera:

3 cups self-rising flour (if you don't have it, you can make it with 3 cups flour, 1 Tb baking powder and 1/2 Tb salt.)
1 cup teff flour (or buckwheat flour, or whole wheat flour)
1 cup corn flour (I've used Masa flour, the stuff you make corn tortillas out of.)
1 2-liter bottle of Club soda.

mix dry ingredients together, then add a little bit of club soda until the flour mix turns into a paste. Then add more and more club soda carefully in icrements (so you don't get lumps) until you have batter the consistency of thin pancake batter.

Get a frying pan (any size) and pour a little bit of oil in the bottom. Take a cloth and wipe the oil all over so it's in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Pour 1/4-1/3 cup of the batter in the pan, pick the pan up and move it from side to side until the batter spreads out and is thin (maybe 1/8 inch on the bottom of the pan). Set the pan on the burner at medium heat and cook it for 1 minute, or until bubbles are showing in the middle. Then take a saucepan cover and put it over the dough circle, tightly so the injera can steam. Cook this for two more minutes.

You don't turn over injera, you just take it off the pan with 1 side cooked and 1 side steamed, and stack it on a plate, putting a cloth over the stack so that the injeras can steam further and grow soft and stretchy like we like them.

More Authentic Injera:

3/4 cup water, room temp. (70 degrees)
1/2 cup teff flour
A pinch active yeast (about 1/8 tsp)

Day 1: mix those in a glass jar. do not use metal implements to stir as it will kill the starter. cover it loosely (I usually just take a cloth, put it over the jar, then set a jar ring on top to keep it from falling off) and put it in a neglected corner of your kitchen.

Day 3: stir starter (with something not-metal) and add 1/3 cup teff flour and 1/2 cup water.

Day 5: repeat the above.

on day 5, you can use the starter, but you won't have any leftover for a continuous starter process; you'll use it up. If you want some leftover, continue and do the same thing on day 7.

on the day you use the starter, allow it to settle for at least 4 hours after stirring/feeding, before you use it to cook. Then the recipe goes:

2 cups teff starter
2 cups self-rising flour
room-temp water.

Stir these together, adding the water carefully so the dough doesn't form lumps, until it's about thin-pancake batter consistency. You need to let this sit for a further four hours at least before you cook it.

Follow the same instructions as above, in the easy recipe, to cook it.

And that, my friends, is how we make Ethiopian food. But don't forget hardboiled eggs. Lots and lots of hardboiled eggs to go with the Doro Wat & Injera make it an extra delicious experience.

AND. if you want to try some more recipes (Which I haven't done yet... too chicken or too busy or too something I guess) go here: .

That is also where I've found the best prices for Ethiopian spices. And that includes the African Markets I've been to, though if you live in a big, diverse city you might be able to find better deals than are available to me.

1 comment:

Janell said...

Thank you!

Today I got my berebere! I forgot to look for teff flour, so another trip will be in order.