Cookbook 162: Ethiopia

So there was an email from a bookstore (Booktopia) about things including cookbooks, and one of the ones that I saw was Ethopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa by Yohanis Gebreyesus (with Jeff Koehler). I LOVE Ethiopian food and was super excited to find a cookbook full of Ethiopian recipes, so I bought it. I was not disappointed. There were a couple of missteps (my fault), but the dishes were amazing, I want to make them again as well as try some others. Though I won’t try making the injera, because sour dough bread things are definitely not my jam. Would happily buy some if there was some on offer in my neighbourhood because injera is great. Oh and berbere spice mix is amazing (though I made mine with the wrong chillies so it’s deadly and tasty versus slightly spicy and tasty). We’ve already used the excess spice in risotto and bolognese, and will continue to do so.

Definitely recommend this book if you enjoy Ethiopian food and cooking, 4.5 stars out of 5.

Spicy Pumpkin Stew (serves 2 – 4)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium red or yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or minced)
  • 1 tbsp berbere spice blend (see next recipe)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 500g peeled and seeded pumpkin, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • salt

Method:

  1. In a large flameproof casserole or saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-low heat, add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic, berbere and cardamom, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a touch of water if needed to keep it from scorching.
  2. Add the pumpkin, season with salt and cover with 250ml of water. Partly cover, bring to the boil, then cook over a medium-low heat (medium simmer) for 25 – 35 minutes until the pumpkin is fork-tender. Gently stir from time to time to keep from sticking, but avoid mashing the pumpkin as it softens. Add more water if needed or remove the lid to cook off any excess liquid towards the end of cooking – the stew should be moist but not too liquidy. Serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This dish was pretty amazing. I don’t like pumpkin all that much, but with the berbere spice mix and the onion, the whole dish came together beautifully. It didn’t taste like pumpkin anymore.
  • It was killer spicy though thanks to my choice of chilli in the berbere (see below)

Berbere Spice Blend (makes approx 55g)

[No photo, it’s a spice blend]

Ingredients:

  • 50g dried medium-hot red chillies, such as guajillo or New Mexico chillies
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ajowan seeds
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp dried besobela or ground Thai basil
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Method:

  1. Remove and discard the stems of the chillies and , if the variety is on the hotter side, shake out the seeds. Grind in an electric spice or coffee grinder and transfer to a mixing bowl
  2. Heat a small dry frying pan over a medium-low heat and separately dry-toast the nigella seeds, cloves and ajowan for about 2 minutes each, stirring and shaking the pan until aromatic. Transfer the toasted spices to the mixing bowl, add the onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, cardamom, besobela/Thai basil, cinnamon and salt, and stir to combine.
  3. Working in batches, if needed, grind all the spices together to a fine, even powder. Store in an airtight container in a dry, cool place.
  4. I bought some Thai basil, washed it, put it on a tray in a 200C oven for 20 min, and then turned the oven off and left it to cool with the oven. Then I ground it up.

Notes on this recipe:

  • The spice blend is amazing, though what chillies you use is really important. I only had dried East Asian chillies (probably Thai chillies), and they were hot. Also 50g of chillies is a lot of chillies. We spent a lot of time while making this spice blend sneezing or coughing thanks to the capsaicin.
  • I also didn’t have a spice grinder, so ended up grinding this in a mortar and pestle, which also added to the sneezing. Mine isn’t a fine, even powder, but it’s still good.
  • This can be used all over the place, so making it all is a good idea.

Ethiopian Gnocchi (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 200g plus 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 900ml full-fat milk
  • 80g plus 3 tbsp, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 pinch mitmita spice blend (I used the berbere blend that I’d already made because I wasn’t going to make another spice mix)
  • 4 large eggs
  • salt and white pepper
  • 100g freshly grated mild cheese, such as Gouda or Gruyere

Method:

  1. In a dry frying pan, toast the flour for 10 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. In a large saucepan, add 420ml of the milk and 80g of the butter, season with nutmeg and mitmita (or berbere) and bring to a simmer. Stir in 200g of the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches the consistency of a light pastry dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a stand mixer. Over a low speed, turn the dough while adding in the eggs, one at a time. Alternatively, mix by hand: transfer the dough to a mixing bowl, stir for a few minutes to cool, and then begin adding the eggs one by one, vigorously stirring to thoroughly incorporate before adding the next one.
  4. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1.5cm nozzle.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and, holding the pastry bag over the pot, squeeze out the pastry from the bag, cutting with scissors at 2.5 – 3cm long intervals, and allowing the gnocchi shapes to fall into the water. Cook for a few minutes until they start to float, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of iced water. Once they have fallen to the bottom, remove and spread out on a tray to dry.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C. Warm the remaining 480ml milk and set aside.
  7. In a saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tbsp butter over a medium-low heat and stir in the remaining 3 tbsp of flour. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 1 – 2 minutes until it looks and smells a little toasted. Whisk in the reserved hot milk and cook over a low heat, stirring continually, for about 5 minutes and until it thickly coats the back of a spoon – you should have about 420ml of bechamel. Season with salt and white pepper.
  8. In a baking dish, stir the gnocchi through the bechamel sauce to thoroughly coat, then transfer to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until bubbly and hot throughout. Generously spread the cheese over the top and place the dish under the grill until the cheese is golden and melted. Serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This dish was fiddly, but not complicated. It had a range of techniques I have never engaged when cooking – such as toasting the flour, and then making a kind of choux pastry to be the gnocchi base. That said, it was quite tasty and offset the spice of the pumpkins very nicely.
  • Don’t be put off by the number of steps or your lack of a pastry bag. I didn’t have a pastry bag so put the gnocchi mixture into a freezer bag and snipped off a corner and squeezed it through that. You could probably also use a large teaspoon and make balls of dough. Many different options for making gnocchi shapes out of this pastry.

Tender lamb cubes simmered in mild turmeric and onion sauce (serves 4 – 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb (1.3 – 1.5kg)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp ghee (or niter kebbeh if you can get it)
  • 4 medium red or yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ajowan
  • salt
  • 2 – 3 medium jalapeno chillies, seeded and chopped – to garnish

Method:

  1. Have your butcher trim and debone the leg of lamb, and chop the bones into 5cm lengths. Cut the meat into generous 3cm pieces and set aside.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saute pan or wide saucepan over a medium heat, add the oil and 2 tbsp of the ghee and cook the onions for 10 – 15 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute until aromatic. Stir in the turmeric and ajowan.
  3. Season the meat with salt and add along with the bones. Mix well and brown the meat for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 500ml of boiling water to the pan, cover almost entirely with a lid and cook over a low heat for about 1.5 hours until the meat is tender and the sauce reduced. Remove and discard the bones (or suck the marrow out of them like I did) and stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of ghee. Place in a serving bowl, garnish with the jalapenos and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This was such a lovely dish. I can’t remember if I used ground cumin here or just the ajowan seeds without grinding – but it doesn’t matter at this specific moment, because this dish was tasty.
  • I couldn’t get such a small leg of lamb, so I have a lot of excess lamb in my freezer for another (or this) dish.
  • The local butcher I used was more than happy to debone the lamb and then cut up the bone for me. He also offered to cut up all the meat into whatever size I wanted, which would have saved me time, and not cost me extra. Support your local butcher if you eat meat.
  • We served this is bread (I think it would normally be served with injera), and it was good. Definitely recommend.

1 ping

  1. […] used lamb leg, because I had a stack of it left from when I cooked from Ethiopia, cooking with lamb shoulder (somewhat fattier, and including the bones) would have made this dish […]

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