An authentic Ethiopian breakfast that is eaten with torn injera bread between fingers! Ethiopian fitfit style eggs, tomato and chile, Ethiopian red lentil puree and teff grain injera bread!
There is no shortage of great flavor in Ethopian cuisine! A spiced clarified butter called Niter Kibbeh is used in many Ethiopian recipes. A complex spice mix called Berbere is used in Ethiopean recipes too. Berbere is every bit as complex as Moroccan Ras Al Hanout spice mix, but berbere has much more chile pepper in the mixture. Berbere spice mix recipes do vary and the seasonings are adjusted for each individual recipe. Some of the very hard to find items in the berbere spice mix will be listed in my recipe as optional, only because those ingredients are not commonly available, even in specialty markets.
The amount of berbere spice mix in a recipe is a matter of the chef's decision, but for the most part a heavy amount of berbere is used in a recipe. Many Ethiopian recipes call for even more chile powders that what is already in the berbere mixture. That equates to some very hot and spicy food!
As my regular readers know, I do like good spicy food. When given a choice of how spicy the food will be prepared while dining out in Thai and Ethiopian restaurants, I always ask for the food to be prepared as spicy as it can be made. I am a chile pepper freak! I can eat chile peppers all day long. Out of fear, friends never ask to taste a sample of the spicy food that I eat, when we dine out. The thing that I enjoy more than chile peppers, is a well balanced exotic spice mixture that goes well with chile pepper heat!
Not to fear! I do tone my spicy recipes down to average chile pepper tolerance levels for my readers. I never let my personal taste in food interfere with writing a recipe like a professional chef. The food that I cook for other people is devoid of personal taste! So, the chile pepper spices in this recipe are about a mild medium hot on the chile pepper scale. To an Ethiopian, that would be very mild! Even so, Ethiopians do realize that excessive chile spice heat is not a pleasurable experience too.
Injera bread is required for most Ethiopian cuisine. Injera is made with Teff grass grain flour. Teff grows in a limited supply in Ethiopia, but it is also grown in Iran and Iraq. The Persian word for teff translates to "love grass." Because the batter is naturally fermented without leavening, injera is popular in Persia and Arabia. Teff grain almost tastes like buckwheat. Buckwheat flour is sometimes used to thin teff, when it is in short supply. Many cooks that cannot find teff substitute buckwheat.
To make injera, the thin bread batter is left in open air for 3 days and airborne yeast naturally ferments the batter. The batter is poured on a warm wide flat grill or an Ethiopian round griddle over coals. The injera is cooked like a thin pancake or crepe. Injera has a soft spongy texture and it can be easily torn into pieces. The torn pieces are placed between fingers and bits of food are picked up by hand and eaten. The meal is also served on injera. Injera is used as the tablecloth, the plate and the dining silverware utensils. Nothing is wasted! All the food and injera is consumed for a very healthy meal.
Ethiopian cuisine has many great vegetarian recipes, because of religious reasons. Several days a week no meat is eaten. Especially on Fridays. The Ethiopian vegan recipes are every bit as tasty as the meat recipes. So, if you are vegan and you are tired of eating bland raw food and bland steamed vegetables, then Ethiopian food is something to check out! There is plenty of tasty spicy vegan recipes!
Ethiopian stews are never served with the stewing sauce being overly wet, because the food is served on the injera bread. The stews are always cooked, so the sauce clings to the featured ingredients. That way, the bread does not get soggy.
Sometimes, just the entree is served on injera alone. Other times, several items are placed on the injera as a meal. Salad is also placed on the injera along with the entree. The salad is also eaten with torn injera between fingers.
I first tried Ethiopian cuisine at the Cottage Grove Cafe in Las Vegas. The Ethiopian food there was fantastic! The pace of the service was peaceful and relaxed. Laid back, calm, serene and in no rush is true Ethiopian dining style! Ethiopians are also very big on having coffee with meals or just going to an Ethiopian restaurant for coffee. Las Vegas Ethiopian taxi drivers sit at the Cottage Grove bar and drink coffee all times of day. Ethiopian coffee is rich and good!
I do not have an extra wide griddle or flat top grill in my home kitchen, so that makes it impossible to make injera bread from scratch. I found pr-made injera bread for sale at the Mediterranean Market in Las Vegas! The bread was made at the Ethiopian Bakery in Las Vegas. Injera bread can be purchased pre-made at any Ethiopian restaurant and it can be purchased on the internet. Save any stale old injera bread to make Ethiopian spiced crispy fried injera snacks!
Make the spiced butter ahead of time and mix the berbere spices ahead of time. This will make cooking Ethiopian food easier. Stewing is the main cooking technique and saute techniques are not usually employed for the start of a stew. Reduction method is the way Ethiopian stews are thickened. The niter kibbeh butter is used to enrich the food most times. Some recipes call for browning onions with plain butter first, before the other ingredients are added.
Get ready for some classic exotic Ethiopian old world flavor!
Niter Kibbeh Recipe:
Niter Kibbeh is Ethiopian spiced butter!
Place 3/4 pound of unsalted butter in a sauce pot off of the heat.
Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic.
Add 1 small handful of thick sliced ginger.
Add 2 or 3 crushed cardamom pods.
Add 1 small cinnamon stick.
Add 2 cloves.
Add 3 pinches of turmeric.
Add 2 pinches of fennel seed.
Place the sauce pot over very low heat.
Slowly render the butter and spices together, till the butter fats and water evaporate and the butter is clarified.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
The clarified niter kibbeh can be refrigerated and scooped by portions for later Ethiopian recipes.
Berbere Dry Spice Mix Recipe:
Berbere is the main Ethiopian spice mix. The spices are crushed together with a mortar and pestle. A food processor or the side of a cleaver can be used to crush and grind the spices too. If ground spices are used, then crushing is not necessary.
Some of the berbere ingredients are very hard to find in markets, so treat them as optional ingredients. Fenugreek or fenugreek seed is required, and that spice can be found in mediterranean markets. Cardamon is expensive at common grocery stores. You can get at least ten times as much cardamom at a Persian Arabic market for the same price as in an American grocery store! Cardamom or Ethiopian korarima is required!
Berbere can be made as a paste with fresh onion, garlic and ginger. Berbere can also be made as a dry spice mix and onion, garlic and ginger become part of the ingredients of the featured recipe instead of the berbere spice mix paste recipe. Ginger powder can be part of the dry spice mix, but fresh ginger can still be added to a recipe.
I prefer making the berbere dry spice mix rather than berbere paste. The dry berbere spice mix has a long shelf life. The berbere paste must be refrigerated and used within 7 days, because of Serve Safe health code reasons.
Place 1 tablespoon of ginger powder into a mixing bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon of ground dried basil leaf.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of coriander.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground cardamom.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground fennugreek.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground nutmeg.
Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Add 1 teaspoon of ground clove.
Add 1 teaspoon of allspice.
Add 1/2 cup of cayenne pepper. (Add 1 cup to make a full strength berbere spice mix!)
Add 1 tablespoon of black pepper.
Add 1/3 cup of paprika.
Add 1 tablespoon of korarima. (Korarima is Ethiopian cardamom. Delete the regular cardamom, if you can find this spice. This is an optional ingredient.)
Add 1 tablespoon of rue. (Common rue is fine. Rue can be found in Bulgarian or Balkan markets. Rue is also a common ornamental plant and is may be in a neighbors front yard! Rue is a natural insect repellant, but it can be a strong skin irritant. Now you know why when visiting Ethiopia, the native Africans stand there smiling with no flies or mosquitos pestering them, while you are busy swatting and cursing at the bugs! This is an optional ingredient.)
Salt can be part of the spice mix, but it is better to leave it out of the mix. Salt should be added separately per recipe.
Mesir Wat Recipe: (Ethiopian Red Lentil Puree)
Place 2 crushed garlic cloves into a sauce pot.
Add small handful of chopped onion.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced ginger.
Add 3 tablespoons of the niter kibbeh. (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter)
Add 1 tablespoon of paprika.
Add 1/2 cup of red lentils.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add twice ad much water as there is ingredients in the sauce pot.
Place the pot over medium high heat.
Bring the liquid to a boil.
Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
Gently simmer and reduce the mixture, till it cooks down to a thick paste. Stir the mixture occasionally.
The mesir wat must be thick and pasty enough to be scooped up with the injera bread!
Enquial Fitfit Recipe: (Ethiopian fitfit style eggs with peppers and tomato)
Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
Add 2 cups of water.
Add 2 crushed garlic cloves.
Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
Add 1 small handful of chopped onion.
Add 1 1/2 Roma tomatoes that are cut into large bite size pieces.
Add 1 thick sliced green jalapeno pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of the niter kebbeh. (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter)
Add 2 tablespoons of berbere. (Ethiopian spice mix)
Add sea salt.
Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
Gently simmer and reduce the liquids, till a this stew sauce is formed that clings to the vegetables.
Heat a non-stick saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 2 to 3 pats of unsalted butter.
Add 2 eggs.
Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Use a rubber spatula to scramble the eggs in the pan, till they are fully cooked.
I purchased pre-made injera bread at the Mediterranean Market in Las Vegas. Pre-made injera is available at Ethiopian restaurants and African markets. Teff flour is also available if you want to make the injera. A large flat grill is required for cooking injera. Injera can be rolled and wrapped with parchment paper, then warmed over an oven.
Place an injera bread on a large plate.
Drape the edges of the injera over itself while placing the ingredients on the injera, so the injera fold are kept in place by the weight of the ingredients.
Place the mesir wat on the injera.
The enquial fitfit is placed on the injera by layering portions of the eggs and tomato pepper fitfit on the injera.
Roll 1 injera bread into a long cylinder shape.
Cut the injera tube in half.
Place one or both injera bread halves on the plate.
No garnish is necessary. No salt and pepper or hot sauce is placed at the table either. Those items belong in the kitchen!
Turn some relaxing Ethiopian drum and percussion music on at a low volume! Tear pieces of injera and use them to scoop up the mesir wat and enquial fitfit with your fingers. Use no silverware. Dine relaxed like Ethiopians dine and enjoy this fine Ethiopian breakfast entree!
The flavors and spice combination in both the mesir wat and enquial fitfit are exotic and captivating. I guarantee that my readers have never tasted a breakfast with so much good flavor! Serve with rich black coffee in a big cup, Ethiopian style.
Today is Easter Sunday in many places around the world. Easter Sunday is one week later in many African and Arabic countries. Easter Sunday is the most popular day for a nice breakfast or Sunday brunch! Yum! ... Shawna