Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et

Ethiopian Jackfruit W'et

Don’t be fooled by the unassuming appearance – this one’s a show stopper!

Recently sidelined with a cold, I was craving something fiery to clear out the sinuses. The jackfruit and eggplant combo were speaking to me, and they weren’t calling for Indian or Thai. You must respect your vegetables! So I turned to Ethiopia for inspiration, and this monster chili was born. Each component of the chili offers a unique point of view, resulting in a party in your mouth in every bite. It is more of a stew than a w’et, so if you served it traditionally (poured over injera) the injera may get soggy too quickly. But using the injera as a dipping vessel or mop would get you just the right juice-to-injera ratio, changing the stew from weekday dish to something to serve to company. Like all chilis, I imagine this recipe is infinitely adaptable depending on your pantry. The components I chose were:

– Jackfruit: Jackfruit adds a nice, firm texture to the chili. Outer pieces as they are cooked sometimes get ‘shredded’ making it a two-for-one texture vegetable!

– Eggplant: Eggplant’s meatiness and willingness to absorb flavour cannot be overlooked. With plenty of flavour to go around, this eggplant is melt in your mouth tender and delicious!

– Lentils: I used green lentils for their firmer texture in this version. Next time I will do a green/red lentil combo – the green lentils for texture and the red lentils to add creaminess to the broth

– Zucchini: You don’t notice it really. I just had some taking up room in the freezer. Delicious though!

These together in a chunky tomato base and a berber spice mix resulted in a chili that is as unique as it is delicious. Visitors to my apartment commented on the aroma, and it was all I could do to keep them from eating the whole pot! Easy enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve to even the greatest skeptic of Ethiopian food. Enjoy!

Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et

1 cup lentils
2t. niter kibeh OR extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 serrano chilis, seeded and diced (to taste)
3c. eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
1 can young jackfruit (in brine), drained and cut into 1″ pieces
3c. zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
1.5T. berber spice mix – dry or paste
1t. ground cumin
1t. ground coriander
1/4t. ground cinnamon
1T. paprika
2 (28oz.) cans diced tomatos (~6 cups diced tomatoes) *Note: You could use whole tomatoes as well and tear with your fingers as you add to the pot!
2T. tomato paste
2c. water, as needed

Directions:

1) In medium sauce pan, cook lentils until tender. Drain and set aside.
2) In large sauce pan, sauté onion in oil until translucent
3) Add garlic and chilis. Sauté ~1 min.
4) Add eggplant and a splash of water. Cover and cook until eggplant starts to get tender.
5) Add jackfruit, zucchini, and all spices. Stir.
6) Add tomatoes slowly, stirring as you go. This will ensure an even spice mix.
7) Add tomato paste and ~2 cups water. Stir.
8) At this point your lentils should be ready – add them to the pot. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and let simmer 15-20min., or until all veggies are done to your liking. Stir occasionally, adding water to the stew consistency of your choice.
9) Cover, turn off heat, and let sit for 5-10min. to let the flavours meld.
11) Ladle into bowls and serve with injera and a green salad.

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