Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Injera in State College

Our Ethiopian cooking class last week was fun. True, it was a challenge for everyone to get the injera thin enough, and we cheated after roasting the Ethiopian coffee beans in a cast iron frying pan by grinding them in a coffee grinder (along with a few cloves and a short stick of cinnamon). And we had to use an American coffee pot to serve the coffee, plus we had to substitute mead for tej at dinner. You can only special order a whole case of tej to get it in the state liquor stores here in central Pennslvania, where there are no Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants, but a good time was had by all.

The stews (wats and alechas) and Ethiopian-style cheese were a hit and people were eager to take home some of the sour dough starter made with tef, as well as authentic
berberé to try their hands at duplicating our meal.

The electric metad (aka lefse maker) worked fine, and we served the injera on 16-inch pizza pans at the table. Tomorrow I'll get back to the cookbook recipes. Watch for recipe #17, Ghanaian tatale (ripe plantain pancakes).

I'm still waiting to hear who else is teaching African cooking classes, and where.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Recipes for Doro Wat, Gomen Wat, and Kik

Here are those recipes (courtesy of Laura Litwiller) for some of the dishes in our injera (Ethiopian flabread) videos (See last few blog postings).

Chicken (Doro) Wat

Remove skin from about 2 pounds of chicken pieces (We used Cornish game hens. Traditionally a whole chicken would be cut into 8 pieces).

Sprinkle with
2 Tablespoons (T) of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon (t) of salt. Let stand while preparing other ingredients.

Heat 4 T vegetable oil.

Add, cover and cook on low heat until onions are just browned:
2 cups (c) finely chopped onions, 1 T minced garlic, 1 t ginger root grated (or 1/2 t ground dried ginger).

Add: 1/4 t fenugreek, crushed, 1/2 t ground cardamom (Ethiopian, if available), 1/8 t ground nutmeg.

Stir well and add: 2 T berbere (for a mild wat) and 4 T paprika (for a hotter stew, use 4 T berbere and 2 T paprika),
2 T tomato paste, and 1 c water (or more, as needed).

Bring all ingredients to a boil and cook slowly, stirring often, for about 45 minutes. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. Add a small amount of water if necessary.

Add the
chicken pieces to the sauce, turning the pieces to coat. Add 2 T butter (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter, niter kibbeh, if available). Lower the heat and cook chicken for about an hour, turning the chicken often to prevent sticking and so it cooks evenly.

Prepare 1
hard-boiled egg for each person. Peel the eggs, and cut about 5 shallow slits in them to allow the wat to permeate the eggs. Add to the sauce the last 10 minutes of cooking time, gently stirring them into the stew to coat them.

Serve with injera.

Ethiopian Greens (Gomen Wat)

1 pound of green kale, chopped fine
1 medium onion finely minced
1/2 - 1 t chopped garlic
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t salt (or to taste)
1/2 t black pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (or to taste)
1/4 c vegetable oil

Saute onion in oil till clear, add garlic and spices and cook 3 minutes, add chopped kale and 1/2 c water. Cover and cook kale until tender (about 30 minutes). Add jalapenos and cook 5 minutes on low heat. Add more salt to taste (serves 6).

Serve with injera.
(Note: We made this with kale on the video, but I made it this week with some Swiss chard and it was also delicious).

Kik Pea Alecha (chick peas/garbanzo beans stew)

1 1/2 c minced onions
1/4 c vegetale oil
2 c cooked chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t fresh chopped garlic (or 1/2 t garlic powder)
1/2 t chopped ginger (or 1/4 t ginger powder)

Cook onions in oil until onions are clear. Add chick peas, turmeric, and 1 1/2 - 2 c water.
Cook for 20 minutes.
Add garlic and ginger. Cook until soft. Mash (or use blender or food processor to process until smooth).

Serve hot with injera.

My first attempt after the video to make the injera on my own was a disaster. I bought an inexpensive electric skillet, but it was not heavy enough to provide an even heat, and also it had an inaccurate thermostat, so part of the injera was burned, and part was not cooked. Plus I made the batter too thick. I tried again on the weekend. The first time I used my favorite cast iron pan, which made a lovely injera, but it stuck to the pan when I tried to take it out. Secondly I tried using a small nonstick pan on the stovetop, and added a little extra water to the batter when I added the self-rising flour, and everything was perfect. The only problem was it took me forever to finish making the injera because my pan was so small. I guess I'll either buy an electric mitad (the official injera-making pan) or a larger nonstick skillet. By the way, I made sure the skillet was completely grease-free when I used it. I scrubbed it with salt before cooking the injera, and each time after making an injera, I wiped the pan with a paper towel to clean it.

Good luck. If you try this, let me know how it works for you. By the way, that's my daughter Masi (home from New York for the weekend) and Sam, my nephew/son and a junior at Penn State at the table with me.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Step-by-step Injera, Part 4 (plus doro and gomen wats)

Along with our injera, we prepared 2 stews to accompany it--a mild version of the classic doro wat (a famous Ethiopian spicy chicken stew with hardboiled eggs, berbere and an Ethiopian clarified spiced butter called niter kibbeh). We also made gomen wat, a vegetarian stew from kale. Below are some video clips taken during the process of cooking, cooling, and rolling the injera and preparing the stews. (Before we made our injera and stews I also whipped up some lamb sambossas, a tomato, onion, and green pepper salad, and a garbanzo bean [chickpea] dish called kik, plus bought some mead [honey wine] to round out the meal. We invited some friends over and feasted.)

Now, here in central Pennsylvania, I no longer have to wait for a trip to Washington DC or New York or Boston to get my injera fix!

Here's Laura Litwiller's Doro Wat recipe

1. Remove skin from about 2 pounds of chicken pieces (we used Cornish game hens) [each chicken is generally cut into 8 pieces]
2. Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt
3. Let stand while preparing these ingredients:

4. Heat 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil in a heavy pot
5. Finely chop 2 cups of onions, mince 1 Tablespoon of fresh, peeled garlic, peel and grate 1 teaspoon ginger root (or use 1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger)
6. Mix all ingredients together with the heated oil and stir well. Cover and cook on low heat until the onions are just brown.

7. When the onions are slightly browned, add
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Ethiopian cardamom (if available, otherwise substitute regular cardamom)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8. Stir well and add:
2 Tablespoons berbere (for a mild stew) and 4 Tablespoons paprika [for a hotter stew, add 4 Tablespoons berbere and 2 Tablespoons paprika] NOTE: If authentic berbere is not available, make your own "make-do" using: 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, @ Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons paprika, 1/4 ateaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon [again, for a hotter berbere, substitute more cayenne pepper for the paprika], 2 Tablespoons tomato paste, and 1 cup water (or more as needed).

9. Bring to a boil and cook slowly, stirring often, for 45 minutes. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. Add a small amount of water if necessary.

10. Add the chicken pieces (or Cornish game hen pieces) to the sauce, turning pieces to coat. Add 2 Tablespoons of butter (preferably, authentic Ethiopian niter kibbeh or ghee, if you have it; a "make-do" niter kibbeh can be found at the link above). Lower the heat and cook the chicken for about an hour, turning the pieces often to prevent sticking and to so it cooks evenly.

11. Prepare 1 hard-boiled egg for each person. Peel the eggs and cut shallow slits (5-6 for each egg). Add the eggs to the sauce, stir, and simmer them in the sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Serve with plenty of injera.
Since we didn't have a proper round
Ethiopian table (as we did at my son DK Osseo-Asare and his good friend Lionel Lynch's recent graduation celebration in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Addis Red Sea), and had to cook our injera in a square pan, we did not serve it the traditional way (on top of the injera, with more on the side), but simply let people do as they liked: either unroll it and spoon the stews on top, or eat it straight from their plates. Either way, clean hands were the only utensils we needed.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Step-by-step (American-style) Ethiopian Injera, Part 3

Here's the next installment of our injera series. 2 days after making the injera batter (leet), it has fermented enough to continue with the second part of the process. After adding self-rising flour and water to the batter, we allow it to sit for a couple of hours (during which time we were preparing some stews to serve with the injera later in the evening when our guests arrived).

The basic recipe we used for the batter (compliments of Laura Litwiller):

Day #1: Mix by hand with wire whisk:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup teff flour

In a separate bowl also mix by hand with a wire whisk:

1 cup injera batter (leet) starter from a previous recipe (or make your own--see June 25 posting)
3 cups tepid water

Leave the injera covered in a warm place without stirring for about 2 days.

Day #3 (or until batter bubbles up, then separates into clear liquid on top and thick batter below). Drain off liquid and discard. Mix 2 cups self-rising flour and 2 cups of water until smooth. Add to batter mixture and blend until smooth. Let rise 2 hours.

(Save 1 cup of batter in glass jar with a lid. Store in the refrigerator until you make injera again).

Bake injera on a preheated Teflon-coated electric skillet at about 375 degrees. The skillet should have NO oils on its surface. One recipe yields about 11-13 injeras. It takes about 1/2 hour to bake about a dozen 9" by 9" injeras.

Variations: More teff flour can be used in place of white flour. Barley flour can be used in place of some white flour.

Serve injera with Ethiopian watt.

Check back soon for Part 4, which will show the last part of our preparations, including the 2 stews (watts) we made, and the final product.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Step-by-step American-style Injera, Parts 1 and 2

Here are parts 1 and 2 of the video I promised of our injera cooking lesson. As I mention in the introduction, we used 4 cups of all-purpose wheat flour with 1 cup of teff flour (I can buy teff in the organic/health section of our local supermarkets, or you could likely find it in a health foods market or African market catering to East Africans). Laura Litwiller suggests, however, using 2 cups of teff and 3 cups of all-purpose flour.

Day 1 (Wed): Assuming you have some starter already, you prepare the injera batter. (Note: Laura provided us with some of her starter, but she explains you can make your own using approximately a tablespoon of yeast, a half cup of teff and a half cup of white all-purpose flour, and warm water. Mix it together and let it ferment for a day or two before using it the first time). Starter is just a cup or so of batter you save each time you make the injera and set aside in a covered jar in the refrigerator. We let our starter come to room temperature before using it.

1. Begin by mixing the all purpose wheat flour (about 3 cups) and the teff flour (about 2 cups) with a wire wisk. The flour should be at room temperature, and we did not sift before adding it to a non-corosive lidded container (we used an enameled pot). Laura repeatedly reminded us "it's not an exact science."

2. Drain and discard the water off the top of the stored batter (leet). Using a spoon or spatula, scrape the thick batter remaining into a large bowl (this will be much less than the cup or so you started with). Heat 5 cups of water slightly (barely tepid) and pour a little of the water into the jar that contained the starter, shaking it to remove all of the starter batter. Add that to the bowl with the along with the rest of the water, and blend with the wisk.

3. Add about a quarter or a third of the water to the pot containing the flours, stir with the wisk, and repeat until all the water is used, stirring well after each addition, and making sure to blend all the flour in the bottom corners of the pot.

4. Cover the pot, and set it in a warm place free of drafts for two days to ferment. We had cool weather in our kitchen last week, so I kept my pot on the stovetop with the overhead stove light on, and by the end of the first day the fermentation process had still hardly begun. I cooked pizza that night and the heat from my oven must have warmed the stovetop slightly because after that the dough began fermenting in ernest. However, according to Laura, the normal procedure is for the dough to rise up and then separate into water on top and thick batter below. That didn't really happen very much, and we had very little water to remove when we were ready to make the injera. Laura said that was fine, too. Resist lifting the lid too often to see how the process is progressing, and certainly never stir it.

On Day 3 (Friday), 2 days later, we made the injera, along with 2 Ethiopian stews. I'll post those videos and recipes next.

Incidentally, I haven't forgotten that I still have 3 questions on African cooking to answer: the next one is the one about why African restaurants do not seem to be as popular or prevalent as other restaurants, from Asian to Chinese or Italian. I'll get back to those (and to the recipes from the regional Ghanaian cookbook) as soon as I catch up a little.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Step-by-step Ethiopian Injera

My family and I are great fans of Ethiopian/Eritrean cooking. After my son graduated from Harvard's GSD a few weeks ago, he and his co-graduate friend selected an Ethiopian restaurant in Cambridge for the celebration meal for both our extended families. That's the one time I forgot my camera! Anyhow, this week I'm cooking Ethiopian.

On Wed., Sore Shields and I had a preliminary cooking class with Laura Litwiller, a skilled local maker of injera, the spongy sour dough crepe/pancake that's emblamatic of Ethiopian cooking. She lent us some of her starter (years in the making), and helped us prepare a batter using teff and wheat flour. For the last 2 days it's been fermenting. I videotaped much of the process, and will soon post the video here.

Today (Friday) she's returning in the afternoon, and we'll be making the actual injera, along with a few side dishes, doro watt (a spicy chicken stew), siga tibbs (a beef stew) and gomen watt (an Ethiopian version of cooked kale). I think she's also bringing some shiro (a spicy legume powder), as I asked to see it. Since I've invited several friends for dinner (always the optimist), I'm going to whip up some kik pea alecha watt (a mild stew with chick peas, aka garbanzo beans), and an Ethiopian tomato salad, along with a vegetarian sambossa as an appetizer. If our local liquor store carries it, I'll probably pick up some Ethiopian tej (honey wine). All of that means I won't have any more time today to follow up on blog postings about our trip to Jamaica, a new Senegalise restaurant in Cambridge, answering my next question on African cuisines (about restaurants in the U.S.), and also posting another recipe from the Ghanaian regional cookbook. Trust me, I haven't forgotten. There just don't seem to be enough hours in a day!

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