Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ethiopian Cuisine

I am the practical cook of our family. I cook every day, and I feel as though I must be. I try to prepare things that are inexpensive and that don't keep me in the kitchen for too long. I enjoy cooking, but I have lots of other things to do besides just that.

Daniel is a fun cook. Once in a while he gets an interesting idea to try something new, and he goes all out. He spends time researching recipes and ingredients, and he makes sure that he does it just right.

A few months ago, I made an attempt at cooking some Ethiopian food. I cheated, though. I did not use all the spices called for in the stew (because I wanted to LIKE it!), and the injera was a shortcut version, not the full blown sour dough version made with teff flour.

Last week while he was off from work, Daniel decided that he was going to cook us some real Ethiopian food. We really want it to be a part of our family's dinner routine, at least occasionally. Although the spices are very different from what we are used to, we keep hoping that if we eat it enough times we will start to truly enjoy it.....

So he went ALL OUT. He went to the international market at the downtown farmers' market to get some of the spices that aren't even available at our local grocery store. He started by making the tear gas.... oops, I mean the berbere paste. Berbere paste is a mixture of several potent spices that is used to flavor many of their dishes. It is an Ethiopian staple. To make it you toast cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, fenugreek, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cloves, and several other spices in a skillet. That's when it became tear gas. We literally had to open the windows and put fans in them to air out the house because we couldn't breathe.

He purchased real teff flour at the international market too, and he worked all week on making his own injera "starter." You must allow it to ferment at room temperate for several days. Yummy, I know. :)

By Saturday he was ready to assemble the meal. He prepared Doro Wat (chicken stew, a common Ethiopian dish), injera, and yellow split peas (a dish that we have come to recognize as a "safe" one at Ethiopian restaurants, that is, not spicy.) Here are a few photos:

Doro Wat. It has hardboiled eggs in it too. It really did taste better than it looks.

Yellow split peas

Daniel feeling a little nervous as he cooked his first injera

The first batch didn't turn out so well

But the next batch looked beautiful! However, it lacked the bubbly texture that injera is supposed to have.

I am proud of his efforts, and overall everything was really good. I have to admit, though, that after the tear gas episode, we wimped out and he only added about 1/4 the amount of berbere spice mixture that the recipe called for. That was plenty for us.

Here are the recipes that he used:



Betsy and the Boys said...

Hi! We tried our first Ethiopian meal while visiting family last week. I've been scouring the internet for the perfect injera recipe, I was surprised at all the variations! Your link for it isn't working, could you send it to me?
We've been making "Ethiopian vegetables" a little dumbed down, but we really like them!
Congrats on your referral - our social worker is submitting our homestudy today!

The Fab 4 said...

I followed your link from Tracy M's page, and this post was so funny to me. I'm the practical one, and my hubby is the gourmet (code for EXPENSIVE) cook of the fam. Your hubby looking nervous cracked me up. I'm inspired to try a ET recipe now, though. We have 3 boys--1 bio, 1 from ET, and one on the way from India. Great to meet you!

E.T.'s Mom said...

That is both hilarious and impressive!

Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...

Is it bad that I haven't even TRIED any Ethiopian food, let alone COOKED any? I'm a somewhat picky eater when it comes to ethnic foods (meaning: not really into ethnic food much at all). :-(

Gillian said...

Again, so proud of you guys!!
Just a little fyi the international market off of Thompson Lane near 100 Oaks actually sells Berbere spice --its reasonable, authentic--the local Ethiopians buy it, and won't blast out your kitchen!!
The injera looks GREAT!! Makes me crave some ET food!!

Anonymous said...

很好啊 ..................................................

Hauswife said...

WOW! I am so impressed! I've not tried it yet, but am mulling the idea... Good job!