Wednesday, June 8, 2011

For the Love of Injera

You know the stuff - floppy, covered in moon-scape mini-craters, tart, pancakey, delish. Awesomely and coincedentally - gluten-free!

You can get it fresh in Crown Town in piles of 8. 8 is a LOT of injera to get through, if it's only the two of you. We do our best.

I'm working on my Ethiop cooking skills - done the basics a few times now, and I think I'm improving. I don't feel any pressing need since we have some seriously awesome joints in town that are super veg friendly, but still, I tinker.

The only thing missing here are the tarty, stinky collards you find in a standard veggie combo. Because I still can't get Erk to dig on them greens. Sigh.

I also cheated and added braised tempeh to the regular Yetakelt W'et recipe I've made a number of times for a client - it was deeeelish and substantial. Being Indonesian in origin, I dunno if tempeh's made it over to Africa, so this is a non-traditional alteration. But hey, all in the name of sick deliciousness so it's aiiight.

Yetakelt W'et aka Ethiopian Vegetable Stew with Braised Tempeh

1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cake tempeh, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium carrot, chunked
1 handful green beans
2 red potatoes, diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 large red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tablespoon berbere spices (Cedarland carries a 7 spice mix I like, consult your local Middle Eastern grocery store for this delicious stuff or buy it here)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1.5 - 2 cups vegetable stock or water
salt to taste
minced parsley and scallion, 2 tablespoons each

I start by roasting all my veggies. You can braise your tempeh simultaneously.

Heat oven to 450f. Toss all your veggies, sans tomato, with the olive oil, some salt, and 2 cloves worth of your garlic. Spread on a pizza or baking pan, put a rack at oven bottom, and stick those suckers in there for 15 minutes or so, tossing every 5. Add a little water after the first and second tosses, to steam the taters a bit.

Toss your tempeh with a little sesame or coconut oil, some salt or bragg's, black pepper and 1 clove of the garlic. Feeling fiesty? Dust with berbere.

Set the tempeh in a baking dish in a single layer, add enough water (or veggie stock, if you've got some laying around) to just barely cover the tempeh, and stick it in the oven with the veggies. You want to give it at least 15 minutes to steam/braise, to get rid of the bitter taste tempeh often has. Ideally, all your liquid'll be gone - but it isn't necessary.

So, onto the stewing. Heat your coco oil in a deep pot and add onion and garlic. Saute 2 minutes. Add berbere and paprika, toss and toast a bit. Add your tomatoes and paste - stir and cook 4-5 minutes, until the fresh maters have softened. Now just scrape the entire baking pan of veggies into your pot, and add a cup of stock. Add your tempeh. You want a thick stew, but some sauce to sop with that amazing injera - add stock until the consistancy is reached.

Stir in your salt, parsley and scallion.

Deeeelish. Try this recipe for lentils - and a simple salad of tomato, cuke, lettuce, garlic, parsley and lemon - and feast like a king.

My first attempt at Buticha was kinda fail.

Too heavy handed with the berbere, not a long enough chilling time, the texture was weird. Flavor, too salty, too spicy (YUP I said it).

What am I talking about? This scrambled-egg like dish (sometimes referred to as "fasting eggs" ha!) I always scarf tons of when it's out on buffet. Made with chickpea or fava flour, some chili, mysterious mysterious, usually it's let sit overnight to solidify and then "scrambled" to a light, fluffy texture in the morning.

There was no fluffy in my buticha. I will not be discouraged! I will try again!

Cheers, dears :)


  1. Wow, that injera looks amazing. Nice recipes to top it off, too... Looks like you had a divine feast :)

  2. This reminds me of the Ethiopian fasting days menus. Good looking injera

  3. @Sasha - a feast it was. Thanks!

    @cooking - the injera I was not brave enough to attempt making myself. One of these days!

  4. This all looks so tasty. I love Ethiopian food. I also love your blog!