An Exotic Weekend Dinner: Ethiopian Food

I am one of those people that's always seeking the newest, latest, most different. I tend to get bored with tasks, activities and even meals pretty soon after starting. Call it a little ADD, but it's more like "what am I missing by not trying something new?" Cooking plays a big part of feeding my desire to try something new almost every day. And last week trying my hand at homemade Ethiopian food was the way to do it.

Homemade Ethiopian foodI found the two recipes I made to be incredibly easy to make, Doro Wett (a chicken stew) and Fossolia (a stewed green bean and carrot dish). The chicken dish came together just like any other dutch-oven chicken braise and the green bean dish was also a snap. BOth could be done in one pot each. Love that simplicity! The reciopes were somewhat time-consuming (I was cooking for at least an hour and a half) but the whole process was surprisingly fluid, and I was able to improvise any ingredients I didn't have on hand.

The desire to make Ethiopian food began by the serendipitous finding of Injera bread at my local specialty store. If you've never had it, it's delightfully sour like sourdough bread, but has the bubbly texture of a crumpet and the flatness of a crepe. It's amazing.

If you come across Injera in your local store, or feel in the mood to whip some up yourself, I highly recommend these two Ethiopian dishes to serve alongside. And don't forget to use the Injera as your "plate" - it soaks up all of the delicious juices of your cooking!

Doro Wett (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

Makes 6 servings. Recipe by Marcus Samuelsson.

  • 2 medium red onions, diced
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup Spiced Butter (or 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • One 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Berbere or chili powder
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
  • One 4-to 5-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces, wings reserved for another use
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Combine the onions, a pinch of salt, and half of the spiced butter in a Dutch oven or other large deep pot over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining butter, the cardamom, black pepper, cloves, garlic, ginger, and berbere and cook until the onions soften and take on the color of the spices, about 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and the chicken legs and thighs, bring to simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock and the wine, bring back to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and simmer for 20 minutes.

Gently stir in the lime juice and eggs and simmer for another 5 minutes. The sauce will be loose and soupy. Season with salt to taste.

Fossolia (Ethiopian Green Bean dish)

Serves 6. Recipe from here.

2 onions, chopped 1/3 c. canola oil 3-4 oz. tomato paste (about 1/2 of a 6 oz. can) 4 cups green beans, ends snapped off and cut or snapped into halves or thirds 3 carrots, cut into stick-shaped pieces 2-3 tomatoes, chopped minced ginger and garlic (as much or as little as you’d like- I use about 2 tsp. each) salt, to taste

Start by cooking the onions on medium heat for about seven minutes, or until the onions begin to turn translucent and soften. Add the oil and continue cooking for several more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and allow several minutes for the ingredients to simmer together. Add the green beans and carrots, stir well, and cover. Continue cooking on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then add the tomato, ginger, garlic, and salt, and simmer until all of the vegetables are tender.