Thursday, April 26, 2012

Doro Wat, Bamya Alicha and Mesir Wat with Injera

A full Ethiopian meal served on injera bread!  Ethiopian stewed chicken, red lentil puree with stewed tomatoes and okra!

     Before this recipe proceeds, I must warn my food blog readers that Ethiopian food makes use of complex spice mixtures and the chile pepper heat level can be on the hot side.  The amount of ground chile peppers in the spice mix is a personal choice, but Ethiopian food is meant to have a spicy hot flavor!
     The Ethiopian cooking techniques are uncomplicated and easy to learn.  A spiced clarified butter is used in many recipes to enrich the entree and not just for frying.  In the age before refrigeration, clarifying butter was way of preserving butter as well as a way to prepare the butter for a higher smoke point temperature.  After the milk fats were cooked out of the butter, it took a much longer time for un-chilled clarified butter to turn rancid!
     Doro Wat is basically described to be the national dish of Ethiopia.  Doro Wat is Ethiopian stewed chicken.  Hard boiled egg is used as a garnish by many chefs for doro wat.
     Injera bread is easy to make, after the batter ferments for 3 days.  A very wide griddle or flat top grill is needed for making injera bread.  I do not have a griddle that large!  
     I purchased injera bread that was made by a local Las Vegas Ethiopian bakery.  The fresh injera bread was marketed at the Mediterranean Market in Chinatown.  It kind of almost sounds like I had to travel around the globe, just to get the injera bread for this recipe!
     Injera bread can be purchased fresh at local Ethiopian restaurants or Ethiopian bakeries.  If you have Ethiopian restaurants in your area, then stop by and pick up some injera and enjoy a great cup of Ethiopian coffee!
     Injera is used as the tablecloth, the plate and the dining utensils.  Nothing is wasted in an Ethiopian meal!  Pieces of injera are torn and placed between fingers to pick the food up with and eat.  The stews and purees of Ethiopian cooking are intentionally made thick, so they can easily be picked up with injera bread.

     Niter Kibbeh Recipe:
     Niter Kibbeh is Ethiopian spiced butter!  There are many variations of Niter Kibbeh recipes.
     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!

     Doro Wat Recipe:  (Ethiopian Stewed Chicken!)
     Cook 1 egg, till it is hard boiled.  
     Cool the egg under cold running water and peel the egg.
     Set the hard boiled egg aside.
     Remove the bones, skin and fat from 3 chicken thighs.  (Thigh meat has a nice flavor for stewing, but any boneless cut of chicken can be used in this recipe.)
     Cut the chicken meat into large bite size pieces.
     Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of the Niter Kibbeh.
     Add 1 large handful of chopped onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 3 crushed garlic cloves.
     Saute till the onions become a golden color.
     Add the chicken thigh meat.
     Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the Berbere spice mice, while stirring.
     Add 1/2 cup of sherry or White Doe Sweet Wine.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 1" of extra water.
     Add 1/2 cup of tomato puree.
     Add 1 chopped plum tomato.
     Add sea salt.
     Bring the stew to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat. 
     Gently simmer and reduce, till the chicken becomes fully cooked and tender.  Simmer and reduce, till the stew becomes thick.
     Keep the doro wat warm.

     Bamya Alicha Recipe:  (Ethiopian Stewed Okra and Tomato)
     Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of plain clarified butter.
     Add 2 coarsely chopped tomatoes.
     Stir till the tomatoes start to become tender.
     Add 3 crushed garlic cloves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 coarsely chopped jalapeno pepper.
     Add 1 large handful of whole okra.
     Add just enough water to cover the ingredients.
     Add 1 teaspoon of paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Add 3 pinches of nutmeg.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.
     Add sea salt.
     Bring the stew to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till most of the liquid has evaporated and till the stew becomes thick.

     Place one whole injera bread over a plate.
     Place 1 large mound of the Doro Wat on the injera.
     Place 1 medium size mound of the Mesir Wat on the injera.
     Place 1 medium size mound of the Bamya Alicha on the injera.
     Cut the hard boiled egg in half.
     Place the two halves of hard boiled egg next to the Doro Wat.
     Serve with rolled warm injera bread that is cut in half. 

     Viola!  A complete Ethiopian meal!  Oh, wait!  The Ethiopian salad can also be placed on the injera bread along with the meal!
     The spices and flavor combinations of Ethiopian cooking are hard to imagine.  Intense long lasting flavor and aroma is what this cuisine is all about.  There is no shortage of good flavor in Ethiopian cuisine!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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