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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Berberé and Niter Kibbeh - prelude to Ethopian Stew

One of my favourite foodie haunts as mentioned previously is the western suburban town of Footscray (West of Melbourne that is). In addition to the huge Vietnamese quarter of Footscray is the much more recently populated African quarter. Along the main shopping strips of Footscray, more and more restaurants pop up that allow you to venture (bravely and sometimes blindly) into the showcase of another worldly cuisine. Sometimes, the discovery of a new dish can really inspire a foodie like me.
Ethiopian food is one of the first of these that I have ventured out to try and I must say that I found it to be quite a unique experience. I dined at Harambe on Nicholson Street some time back and was delighted in the different style of cooking and taste that traditional Ethiopian food brought with it. I definitely have plans to revisit Harambe with a camera to capture what is undoubtedly a feasting event as they spark up the buffet and entertainment on weekend nights. Watch this space for a review blog, but for now, here is my take on an amazing Ethiopian dish – Doro Wat (Spicy Chicken Stew)
These curry or stewed dishes are often served quite uniquely on a large pancake like bread, indigenous to that part of the world, called Injera. I can assure you that any attempt to make this bread at home could result in major flaws and disappointment as it will never be the same as that from an authentic Injera bakery. (If you can do it - I take my hat off to you - and I'm coming over for some!) This flatbread is made from fermented wheat, pretty much on the same lines as sourdough. Luckily, Footscray has no shortage of bakers that supply Injera so without any hesitation, I recommend purchasing some, as this meal is just not the same without. If you have any Middle Eastern grocers in your locality they may stock it or know of where to purchase it.

To achieve true Ethiopian flavour there are two components that need to be part of this dish and this post is dedicated to those ingredients that I believe are crucial to making a good African stew, especially Doro Wats.  The first is a pungent and fiery red powdered spice mix called Berbere.  As always, with enough due dilligence, you are bound to find some ready made at your friendly African grocer - and I definitely am suggesting you get some if you do not have an extensive spice collection as mine.  But if you have all of the fifteen parts that make u this Berbere powder, then you are halfway there.

For the Berberé½ x tsp Allspice powder
1 x tsp Cardamom powder
½ tsp x Cinnamon powder
½ tsp x Cloves powder
1 tsp x Coriander powder
1 tsp x Cumin powder
1 tsp x Fenugreek powder
½ tsp x Nutmeg powder
1 tsp x Black pepper, crushed
½ tsp x Turmeric powder
3 tbsp x Cayenne Pepper (add more if you like it spicy!)
5 tbsp x Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp x Salt
2 tbsp x Ginger powder
2 tbsp x Garlic powder

Use a heavy based frypan over medium heat and toast the dry spices for a few minutes until aromatic. Be sure to shake the pan continuously to prevent the spice mixture from burning. Once the Berberé is cooled you can run it through a spice grinder to get a nice consistency in texture if you wish.

Niter Kibbeh is is a well seasoned clarified butter used in Ethiopian cooking. You may substitute with ghee (from Indian grocers), but it just would not be the same. The aromatics that are steeped in the hot butter as it clarifies really sets this ingredient apart from any substitution. 

For the Niter Kibbeh
500g x Unsalted Butter, cubed
2 x cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1" piece x Ginger, chopped finely
1 x Small Onion, diced finely
½ tsp x Turmeric powder
½ tsp x Cardamom powder
¼ tsp x Nutmeg powder
¼ tsp x Fenugreek powder
1 x Cinnamon Stick
2 x Cloves
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat
Bring butter to a slight boil, the moisture in it will start to cook off
Now add the chopped garlic, ginger and onion
Stir for a minute and do not allow the ingredients to burn
Now add all the dry powdered and whole spices
Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes without stirring
The milk solids in the butter will sink to the bottom of the pan and clarified butter will rise to the top
Strain the liquid discarding the milk solids and spices
Allow the clarified butter to cool and store in the fridge to solidify for use

"You now have the Berberé and Niter Kibbeh and you are set for the Doro Wats click on the link below to go to the recipe
Doro Wats - Spicy Chicken Stew 
"I have to give credit to, from where I have adapted these recipes from. By the way this is a great website for all things African…foodie speaking of course."

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