Sik Sik Wat

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In Ethiopia, the word wat is basically the word for stew. But this is no ordinary stew. Ethiopian wats, no matter what meat is used, whether cooked or raw, are spicy, saucy stews of vibrant color and endless flavors.

Two main seasoning ingredients must be prepared first before following through with a wat. One is Berberé, a rich paprika-based mixture, and niter kebbeh, a fragrant infused clarified butter.

This stew is a classic example of a wat. I hope you get a chance to make it! The recipe is from African Cooking, one of many of a Foods of the World series from Time Life.

Sik Sik Wat
Beef Stewed in Red Pepper Sauce
To serve 6 to 8

2 cups finely chopped onions
1/3 cup niter kibbeh
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons berberé
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped and puréed through a food mill (I used a teaspoon of tomato paste)
2 teaspoons salt
3 pounds lean boneless beef, preferably chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
Freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy 4- to 5- quart enameled casserole, cook the onions over moderate heat for 5 or 6 minutes, until they are soft and dry. Don’t let them burn. Stir in the niter kebbeh and, when it begins to splutter, add the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg, stirring well after each addition.

Add the paprika and berberé, and stir over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the wine, water, pureed tomato and salt, and bring the liquid to a boil.

Add the beef cubes and turn them about with a spoon until they are evenly coated with the sauce.

Then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan partially and simmer the beef for about 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle the wat with a few grindings of pepper and taste for seasoning.

Sik sik wat is traditionally accompanied by injera or yewollo ambasha, but may also be eaten with Arab-style flat bread or hot boiled rice. Below left, injera, below right, yewollo ambasha.

Plain yoghurt may be served with the wat from a separate bowl.

Stir Fried Noodles with Shrimp

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A while back, I posted on David Chang’s Bacon-Fried Rice recipe, which I found in a People magazine, of all things. It’s a fairly classic stir-fried rice recipe, but starts with cooking diced bacon and ends with fish sauce. It’s fabulous.

So I got to thinking, what about making a stir-fried rice, but using noodles instead of rice? That’s when I googled, and discovered that stir fried noodles is a thing. I didn’t invent it.

What’s interesting to me, is that the recipe I came across is by none other than Martha Rose Shulman, who I’ve never known to make anything Asian, but she obviously does. (And obviously I’m no Martha Rose Shulman expert!)

Her recipe, called Stir-Fried Rice Stick Noodles with Bok Choy and Cherry tomatoes, is from New York Times Cooking. The recipe sounds wonderful, but I’m subbing bok choy with spinach, because it’s easier to find, and I’m including spicy shrimp.

Stir-Fried Rice Stick Noodles with Spicy Shrimp, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes
Slightly adapted

1 pound shrimp, shelled, cleaned, sliced in half lengthwise
1-2 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil
Shichimi Tagarashi or cayenne, to taste
7 ounces rice stick noodles
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 eggs, beaten with a little salt and pepper
1 pound baby spinach
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved, lightly deseeded
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with the oil until well coated. Add the Shichimi Tagarashi and toss gently.

Heat a little peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat with the ventilation on. Cook about a third of the shrimp at a time, about 1 – 1/2 minutes per side, until they are pink. Place on a plate, and continue with remaining shrimp, adding a teaspoon oil if necessary. Tent with foil and set aside.

Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Soak for at least 20 minutes, until soft. Drain in a fine colander and, using kitchen scissors, but into 6” lengths. Set aside.

Combine the broth, soy sauce, and rice wine in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine the garlic, ginger, and minced jalapeño in another bowl. Set aside.

Heat the same skillet over high heat and swirl in 2 teaspoons of the peanut oil. Make sure the bottom of the pan is coated in oil, then add the eggs, swirling the pan so that the eggs form a thin pancake. Cook 30 seconds to a minute, until set. Using a spatula, turn the pancake over and cook for 5 – 10 more seconds, until thoroughly set, then transfer to a plate or cutting board. When cool enough to handle, roll up the egg pancake and cut into strips 1/4” wide. Set aside.

Swirl the remaining oil into the skillet and add the garlic mixture. Stir fry for no more than 10 seconds, until fragrant, then add the spinach. Stir fry for 1 minute, until bright green and wilted. Add the broth mixture, the noodles, and tomatoes.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir fry 1 to 2 minutes, using tongs to move around the noodles, until they are just tender and the tomatoes are beginning to soften. Stir in the shrimp gently, then add the cilantro, egg shreds, salt, sugar, and stir fry another 30 seconds until well combined.

Add the sesame seed oil, and serve.

I also added black sesame seeds.

In retrospect, these noodles really aren’t “stir-fried” even though Ms. Shulman actually refers to “frying” the noodles. With the 1/2 cup plus of liquid, there’s really no frying. Oh well.

I tried a stir-fried noodle recipe, and it was really good. That’s what’s important.

Prawn and Tomato Stew

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I was gifted the cookbook Falastin by a dear friend, and I’ve already made many recipes from it. The authors are Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, and the book is all about the food of Palestine, published in 2020.

From the book, “There is no letter “P” in the Arabic language so “Falastin” (pronounced “fa-la’steen”) is, in one sense, simply the way “Falastinians” refer to themselves. But this word is also about geography, history language, land, identity, and culture. Falastin is a celebration of this culture: the recipes and stories, the food and the people of Palestine.

I chose to make an enticing prawn and tomato stew, made with fresh tomatoes. It’s hearty, warming with the spices, but also has a fresh element with the cilantro pesto.

I don’t mean to disrespect the great Sami Tamimi, but 3 ingredients in this dish caught my attention – the use of cilantro, ginger, and dill together. I am familiar with cilantro and ginger together in Asian cuisines, but the dill really confused me. Not being a huge dill fan I omitted it. I would not have been surprised if it was mint instead of the dill, but there it is.

Prawn and Tomato Stew with Cilantro Pesto
Serves 4

Cilantro pesto:
1½ cups cilantro (30g), roughly chopped
1 green chile finely chopped
⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp pine nuts (50g) lightly toasted, reserve 1 tbsp for garnish when serving
1 lemon finely grate the zest to get 1½ tsp, then cut into wedges for serving
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (80ml)
salt and pepper

9 oz cherry tomatoes (250g)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (60ml)
1 large yellow onion (1¼ cups / 180g) finely chopped
4 garlic cloves crushed
¾-inch / 2cm piece of ginger (1½ tbsp / 15g) peeled and finely grated
1 green chile finely chopped, with seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with 2 tsp ground coriander instead)
1½ tsp cumin seeds lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with 1½ tsp ground cumin instead)
8 cardamom pods lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with ½ tsp ground cardamom instead)
1 cup dill leaves (20g) finely chopped (I didn’t use)
2 tsp tomato paste
6 plum tomatoes (2¾ cups / 500g) roughly chopped
1¼ cups water
salt and black pepper to taste
1⅓ lbs shrimp (600g) peeled

To make the cilantro pesto, combine cilantro, chile and pine nuts into a food processor and pulse a few times, until the pine nuts are roughly crumbled and incorporated with the cilantro and chile. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add the lemon zest, olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix to combine, then set aside.

Place a large sauté pan over high heat. Toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 tsp of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice, until blistered and charred on all sides. Remove tomatoes from the pan and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and place it over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasinally, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger, chile, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dill and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the plum tomatoes, water, 1½ tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then decrease heat to medium and cook for 25 minutes, uncovered, or until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes have broken down.

Pat the prawns dry and mix them in a bowl with ¼ tsp of salt, 1 tbsp olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Put 2 tsp of olive oil into a large sauté pan and place over high heat. Once hot, add the shrimp in batches and fry for 1 minute on each side, until cooked through and nicely browned. Set each batch aside in small mixing bowl while you continue with the remaining prawns. When the sauce is ready, stir in the prawns and charred tomatoes and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, to heat through.

Serve either straight from the pan or spoon into wide shallow bowls.

Scoop out the cardamom pods if you like, they are there to flavor the dish rather than to be eaten. I couldn’t find my pods, so I opted for ground cardamom.

Dot the stew with about half of the pesto and pass the lemon wedges and remaining pesto in a bowl alongside.

Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of pine nuts on top.

This dish is outstanding and I will be making it again. The flavors are marvelous. The pesto, made with jalapeño and lemon in lieu of garlic, is wonderful, and pairs so well with the shrimp and tomatoes.

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps

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The other day I came across Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course on Amazon Prime. I happen to be a huge fan of his, so of course I watched.

I’ve already frantically written down two recipes from just the first episode, this being one of the two – Asian-inspired crispy beef and pork, served in lettuce leaves with a fabulous sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

Not surprisingly, all of his recipes on this show were lovely; there are 100 in all – “recipes to stake your life on.” A huge promise, but of course, he’s Chef Ramsay. According to Gordon, “I’m going to teach you amazing food you can cook standing on your head.”

The cookery series consists of ten episodes, originally aired in 2012. “Each episode concentrates on a different theme essential for the modern cook and is packed with useful tips and tricks to save time and money.”

And what’s truly amazing to me, is that Chef Ramsay can talk, non-stop, in his wonderful culinary prose, describing everything he’s doing, and the flavors and smells, all whilst cooking. As my family can attest, I cannot cook and talk. So that impresses me! And, he may not be everybody’s favorite chef, but darn, his passion shows!

Note: In the U.S., where I live, chile peppers cover the whole gamut of smoked, dried, and fresh peppers. They are spelled chile peppers, not chili peppers. Chili is an American meat dish.

However, in other countries like England, chile peppers are spelled chili peppers, and sometimes chilli peppers, or chilis or chillies. Until you know this, you may be confused!

So I’m honoring Chef Ramsay’s recipe name of Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps, named for the little red chile peppers he uses in the recipe!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps with Dipping Sauce
Printable recipe below

Olive oil, for frying
200g lean minced beef
200g minced pork
Toasted sesame oil, for frying
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1–2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
Zest of 1 lime, juice of 1/3 lime
3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 little gem lettuces, separated into leaves, to serve

Heat a large frying pan and add a little oil. Mix the minced beef and pork together. Season with salt and pepper and mix well to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed. Fry the mince in the hot pan for 5–7 minutes until crisp and brown and broken down to a fine consistency. Drain the crisped mince in a sieve – this will help it stay crispy. Set aside.

Wipe out the pan and add a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Fry with a pinch of salt and the sugar for 2 minutes. Add the drained mince and stir to mix. Add the fish sauce and heat through. Stir in the lime zest and juice, then add the spring onions, stirring for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and adjust to taste.

To serve, spoon some of the mince mixture into the lettuce leaves, drizzle with a little dressing and serve.

Or, if you couldn’t find Little Gem lettuce and had to substitute butter lettuce, and it doesn’t work well for roll-ups, gently slice the lettuce, place on a platter, and cover with the beef mixture

I poured the remaining sauce over the top, and it was wonderful as a salad of sorts!

Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1-2 chillies, thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Chopped cilantro

Mix all of the ingredients together well. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the lettuce wraps.

 

 

Chicken Biryani

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When I first made biryani a million years ago, or so it seems, it was a fun dish for me because it was a perfect vehicle for leftovers – leftover rice, leftover chicken, even a leftover curry. But one can also make it purposefully from scratch, creating a custom version of what you like.

Biryani is an Indian dish, with many variations, which is perfect for the way I like to cook. It’s basically rice and meat, and you can sprinkle the dish with cilantro or green onions, serve with sour cream. It’s fun and flavorful and filling.

I’m not using an actual recipe, simply so I can show you how to make it from scratch and how easy and straight forward biryani is. I’m using the basic Indian-inspired seasonings, basmati rice, and prepared chicken.

After I’d created the seasonings for this biryani, I discovered an actual biryani seasoning mixture that I bought a few years ago. I need to go through my spice drawers!

Chicken Biryani
Printable recipe below

3 tablespoons ghee or butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 – 1” piece of ginger, minced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups basmati rice, I’m using brown
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or to taste
Approximately 3 1/2 cups of good chicken broth
4 grilled chicken breasts
2 tablespoons ghee
1 red bell pepper, cut into slices
1 green bell pepper, cut into slices
4 hard-boiled eggs
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Melt the ghee in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, give it a stir, then pour in the rice followed by the spices.

Add the broth and give everything a stir. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes. Brown rice takes a bit longer so test it. If your rice is done and there’s still some broth, give it a stir, keep the lid on, and give it about 10 minutes; the rice will absorb the liquid. Set aside and keep warm.

Cut up the cooked chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. I put sweet paprika on mine before cooking, which is why they’re red; paprika is not an Indian spice. Set the chicken aside.

In a skillet, heat the ghee over medium-high heat, and sauté the pepper slices for about 5 minutes, getting some good caramelization on them, turning once. You might have to do this in two batches. Set the slices on a plate.

Add the chicken pieces, turn off the heat, put on a lid, and let the chicken heat through.

Peel the hard-boiled eggs and slice in half; make sure they’re at room temperature.

To serve, place the aromatic rice on a serving platter, then cover with the peppers and chicken. If you prefer, you can mix the chicken with the rice instead.

Decorate the biryani with the egg halves, and sprinkle the dish with cilantro.

If you don’t want to grill chicken breasts, pick apart a rotisserie chicken and coarsely chop the meat.

If you want to use less chicken, include a can of drained chick peas to the rice.

Now you can see how you can come up with your own recipe for biryani. It’s fun and easy!

 

 

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

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By definition, truffles, the chocolate kind not the fungus, are made of chocolate and cream only. These I call truffle balls, which are a throwback to the rum balls of the 1950’s.

I enjoy making truffle balls, because for one thing they’re way easier than real truffles. They’re also more “stable” and less temperamental, because of a cookie or cake base.

When I make truffle balls, I typically make a batch or two, freeze them, and then whip them out for when I have company. You can’t do that with real truffles.

This truffle recipe I came up with when I was doing the food for a charity event benefiting our local SPCA. So many people loved these things and fortunately I kind of remembered what I’d done, and thus, a recipe was born.

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

6 ounces gingersnap cookies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 tablespoons spiced rum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Run the cookies though the food processor until fine crumbs. Place them in a large bowl and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler, place the chocolate, butter, coffee, and rum. Over gently simmering water, melt the ingredients completely. Stir in the cinnamon and ginger. Remove from over the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the cookie crumbs. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and the crumbs completely. Cover the bowl with foil, and place the bowl in the refrigerator for about four hours.

When you are ready to make the truffle balls, get the bowl out of the refrigerator.

In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar well. Have a small spoon and a re-sealable bag handy.

Using the spoon, grab a little of the chocolate-cookie mixture and rub it with both of your hand in a circular motion to make a ball. It shouldn’t be larger than 1″ in diameter. Roll the truffle ball in the coating and place it in the bag. Continue with the remaining chocolate-cookie mixture. You can pour the remaining coating mixture into the bag if you wish.

Refrigerate the truffles or freeze them.

If you freeze them, thaw in the refrigerator first, then put them in a bowl about 30 minutes or so to warm up before serving.

It’s just as easy to double the recipe. Or triple it.

These are really nice for company. Just have some ready to eat at room temperature, and nobody has to eat a slice of cake to please the hostess/host!

Gingerbread Liqueur

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Well, it’s that time of year once again, with sugar plums dancing in my head. I love all of the flavors of the holidays, yet, not so much gingerbread. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not one of my top holiday flavors.

That is, until I discovered a recipe for gingerbread liqueur, on a now non-existent blog.

I guarantee that this liqueur will make your spirits merry!

Gingerbread Liqueur
Printable recipe below

1/2 cup chopped ginger
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole allspice slightly crushed
5 whole cloves
Fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup molasses
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup spiced rum

Put everything in a clean jar.

I doubled the recipe, because I’ve made this before and I know how good it is!

Give the jar a good swirl to make sure the brown sugar and molasses are well stirred, then set the jar in a dark cool place for at least a week. When ready to use, strain into a clean bottle.

Since I’m so creative with cocktails, I add 1/2 & 1/2 to some of the liqueur and called it done.

If you really want to be fancy, add a rim of flavored or just pretty sugar. This was cranberry sugar, but I just did it for the photos!

I don’t let the liqueur sit longer than a week. I find that cloves and cinnamon sticks can lend bitterness if too much time passes.

And I found these adorable gingerbread cookies! Redundant, but cute!

I think the liqueur would be good not only with 1/2 & 1/2, but also with a splash of club soda. Next time, because it’s all gone!

 

 

Doro Wat

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Doro Wat, which translates to chicken stew, is a traditional Ethiopian dish.

It’s very simple to prepare, only require sautéing and poaching. But it must be made with the spice paste and the spice-infused butter to create the really unique flavors of Ethiopian cuisine.

Doro wat, as with other stews are typically eaten with injera – Ethiopian stretchy bread that looks like a large spongy crepe. It’s made with teff flour, and it’s used to pick up the meat and vegetables, and wipe up the juices. No forks!

Please go to an Ethiopian restaurant for the whole dining experience. You won’t regret it! Here is a photo of injera from one we went to in Brooklyn, New York, called Ghenet.

The recipe for Doro Wat comes from the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbook entitled African Cooking.

When I made this stew, I served it to friends who had never experienced Ethiopian cuisine before, along with yewollo ambasha. They loved it.

Doro Wat

3 pounds boneless chicken thighs, trimmed
1 lemon
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup niter kebbeh
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 1″ piece fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup berberé
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
6 hard boiled eggs

First, cut up the thighs into about 3 or 4 manageable pieces, and place them in a large bowl. Squeeze lemon juice into the bowl, add the salt, and toss the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the niter kibbeh to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them for about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another few minutes.

Add the fenugreek, cardamom, nutmeg and berberé to the pot and cook the onion mixture for a few minutes, or until the berberé becomes completely combined with the other ingredients.

Then add the white wine and water and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes over low heat.

Pierce the hard boiled eggs with the tines of a fork, and place them in the pot with the chicken. Cover the pot again and cook for another 15 minutes. Ooops I forgot to do that.

Serve the chicken hot with plenty of sauce, and make sure each serving includes a hard boiled egg. Any kind of bread would be good with doro wat, and comes in handy with the spicy sauce.

After you’re done using the berberé, remember to put more oil over the top!

Berberé

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Before one can make any traditional dishes of Ethiopia, it is necessary to make the wonderfully complex spice paste called berberé. It is paprika based, but also contains onion, garlic, and many wonderful spices that add to the complexity of this unique seasoning mixture. These include cayenne, ginger, coriander, cloves, fenugreek, cardamom, and more.

The recipe I use is from the Time-Life series called Foods of the World.

It doesn’t take much time at all to make berberé, and the toasting spices will make your whole house smell wonderful.

Once you have this spice paste, as well as the other unique seasoned butter called niter kebbeh, you will be able to make a number of authentic Ethiopian dishes.

Berberé
Red Pepper and Spice Paste
Makes about 2 cups

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons salt, divided
3 tablespoons dry red wine
2 cups paprika
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a heavy skillet, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice over low heat for a minute, stirring constantly.

Then remove the skillet from the heat and let the spices cool for 5-10 minutes.

Combine the toasted spices, onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt and the wine in the jar of an electric blender and blend at high speed until the mixture is a smooth paste.

Combine the paprika, cayenne, black pepper and the remaining tablespoon of salt in the saucepan and toast them over low heat for a minute, until they are heated through, stirring the spices constantly.

Stir in the water, 1/4 cup at a time, then add the spice and wine mixture. I used some of the water get get more of the wine mixture from the blender jar.

Stirring vigorously, cook over the lowest possible heat for 10 – 15 minutes.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the Berberé to a jar or crock, and pack it in tightly.

Let the paste cool to room temperature, then dribble enough oil over the top to make a film at least 1/4″ thick.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. If you replenish the film of oil on top each time you use the Berberé, it can safely be kept in the refrigerator for 5-6 months.

Now, you can buy powdered berberé, like I did when I visited Kalustyan’s in New York City, but you can see I’ve never opened it. I’d much rather make the paste from scratch.

Niter Kebbeh

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Niter Kebbeh is a spice-infused butter. Along with berberé, niter kebbeh is an essential element of cooking Ethiopian cuisine. The recipe I use, and have for years, is from the Time-Life series called Foods of the World.

I made this spiced butter after the lockdown in March. It’s typically made with butter, then clarified. I used 24 ounces of ghee, which is clarified butter, instead of 32 ounces of butter. The process was easier because the solids didn’t have to be removed. Following is the original recipe.

Niter Kebbeh
Spiced Butter Oil
Makes about 2 cups

2 pounds unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
4 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cardamom pod, slightly crushed with the flat of a knife, or a pinch of cardamom seeds
1 piece of stick cinnamon, 1 inch long
1 whole clove
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated

In a heavy 4- to 5-quart saucepan, heat the butter over moderate heat, turning it about with a spoon to melt it slowly and completely without letting it brown. Then increase the heat and bring the butter to a boil. When the surface is completely covered with white foam, stir in the remaining ingredients.

Reduce the heat to the lowest possible point and simmer uncovered and undisturbed for 45 minutes, or until the milk solids on the bottom of the pan are a golden brown and the butter on top is transparent.

Slowly pour the clear liquid into a bowl, straining it through a fine sieve lined with a linen towel or cheesecloth. Discard the seasonings.

If there are any solids left in the butter, strain it again to prevent it from becoming rancid later.

Pour the kebbeh into a jar, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator. It will solidify when chilled.

It can safely be kept, even at room temperature, for 2 or 3 months, but I keep mine refrigerated.