A conversation with a friend last night got me all excited about cooking Ethiopian food for dinner tonight. When an afternoon meeting in the city was canceled, I took the unexpected window to drive to downtown Oakland and stock up on some Horn of Africa staples. In my market bag were: a big bag of shuro (spiced chickpea powder); berbere (the distinctive and addictive Ethiopian spice mix); and a large steaming bag of injera. While I have given up most straight carbs these days, the one habit I cannot kick is injera. Luckily, teff, the mother of injera, is one of the most nutritious grains in the world, with 13g of fiber and 9g of protein per serving, not to mention the value-adds from the fermentation process.
After Googling a bit, I decided upon a few dishes for dinner. Yemesir Wot (spiced red lentil stew), Gomen (greens with chilies and garlic), and Buticha (shuro with olive oil in kind of a hummus-like salad).
Yemesir Wot involves stirring boiled red lentils into a potent mixture of red onions, garlic, ginger, and berbere till everything is stained brick red and fragrant. One of the benefits of cooking at home is the ability to be a bit more healthful that one gets a chance to be at restaurants. I was pretty horrified to see that most Ethiopian recipes called for *cupfuls* of oil or butter. I used *tablespoons* of oil instead. I'm willing to sacrifice that flavor. It's sooo worth it.
Buticha recipes instruct toasting the spiced chickpea mixture, and then adding in olive oil to make a kind of thick roux, then taking off the heat and dressing with lemon juice, jalapenos, tomatoes and in my case cucumbers. Refreshing!
Gomen is much like any other stir fried green dish, with a haunting flourish of cardamom at the very end, and of course, authentically, doused with cupfuls of clarified butter.
Next up in my Ethiopian adventures, Gored Gored - a raw beef dish dressed with Awaze, a spiced butter emulsified with Tej or honey wine, and homemade Ethiopian cheese!