Ethiopia: በርበሬ እና እንጀራ

Several years ago I had the pleasure of going to an authentic Ethiopian restaurant with my family. My sister had been exposed to it at college and was excited to share it with us. The food was amazing and unlike anything I had had before so I was excited to relive that experience this week! I learned a few key things… 1. It is very time consuming and 2. It was very messy to make.

Now I’ll be the first to admit I am a messy cook, so I know that comes into account but this meal destroyed my kitchen… too many pots going at once and not enough counter space made for an interesting experience….

On to the menu! We had Berbere spiced chicken, lentils, collards and the all important injera. Injera is your utensil. Much like naan in Indian cuisine, you use the injera to pick up your food and eat it. Injera is a sourdough based bread that is cooked in a pan, its like a thick crepe but made with a special flour. Traditionally it is made with sorghum flour but thankfully you can substitute whole wheat flour.

Every recipe I followed this week came from the same website: AfricanBites.com. I will share my experience and changes but this week I will send you to the source- these recipes are just too good!

Berbere

The spice blend to end all spice blends! Literally every recipe called for berbere and my store doesn’t carry it so Martin and I made it!

This blend has no less than 12 different spices! You can find the recipe here, the final ingredient is 1 Tbs of heat so I opted for 1/2 Tbs cayenne and 1/2 Tbs chili. Sadly, I didn’t have fenugreek so I had to leave that one out. Combine all of your spices in a jar, give it a good shake, slap a label on it and you’re ready to go!

Injera

Next in line is injera, mainly because it needs to rise for about 6 hours on and off. You can find the recipe here and I opted for whole wheat flour. Once the dough is made and has risen you are supposed to mix it with water in a blender in small batches, instead I followed the same ratios but made it in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment and it worked like a charm!

When it came time to cook them, I made the injera by swirling the batter around in a pan just like I would if I was making crepes. If you’ve never made crepes before it can be tricky but after a few weird looking ones it gets easier! For me, I take a 1/3 of a cup of batter in my dominant hand, then I lift the hot pan off of the stove. I hold it at a 45 degree angle and pour the batter in the pan while I rotate the pan in a circle. It should cause the batter to swirl around and cover the entire pan- you do have to move quickly because the batter is cooking the second it hits the hot pan. Once you’re done swirling place the pan back on the heat- if these were crepes you’d flip and cook the other side but not injera! Once the batter is cooked and bubbles cover the surface remove from the pan and repeat the process till all the batter is cooked.

Doro Wat- Ethiopian Chicken Stew

Doro Wat is a berbere flavored chicken dish with soft boiled eggs. I am not an egg person but my husband and daughter are so I’m expanding my egg knowledge for those two.

Soft Boiled Eggs
Bring 1 inch of water to the boil, boil 4 eggs for 6 minutes. Remove the eggs and place them immediately into an ice bath.

Doro Wat has a deep flavor and dark color, I made mine with boneless chicken breasts and it worked great! You can find the original recipe here.

Ye’abasha Gomen- Ethiopian Collards

I love collards and these are a quick and delicious! You can find the recipe here.

Ethiopian Lentil Stew

These are spicy and delicious, you can find the recipe here.

That rounds out your Ethiopian feast! Place injera on the plate first, then pile on the chicken, greens and lentils on top of it. Rip off a chunk of injera, scoop up some food and dig in! In Ethiopia feeding others is a sign of love and respect, so have some fun feeding each other around the table.

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