Category Archives: Ethiopian

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.


Jackfruit W’et, Lentil Allecha, and Collard Greens

Left: Jackfruit W’et, Centre: Collard Greens, Right: Lentil Allecha

Sometimes I crave food from a specific region, just because of one ingredient that I want to try. In this case, I finally found a can of jackfruit (in brine) and I wanted to honour my first jackfruit experience with the spicy glory of an Ethiopian W’et. I cannot take credit for this idea – it is suggested in the notes of the epic zine Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food by Kittee Berns. She suggested the combination, and I will happily report that it is fantastic! I paired it with collard greens sautéed in niter kibbeh (want a challenge? Try to find collard greens in Canada!) and lentil allecha. The result was a protein packed, delicious Ethiopian feast with a kick that cleaned the sinuses – just the way I like it!

I still don’t know what a jackfruit looks like. I assume they don’t come in a can all the time, but that’s how I got mine. I made sure it was packed in brine and not syrup, because they can be used for dessert dishes (predominately Indonesian) as well. Coming out of the can the pieces were like pineapple. They were cut in a triangle shape, with the base of the triangle somewhat fibrous and the centre ‘point’ nice and firm. I will admit I had no idea how to cut the pieces, so I just hacked them to be bite size. As the jackfruit cooks, the fibrous part separates and it becomes more like pulled-pork type consistency, with the firm part staying firm. What an interesting fruit – two different textures just by cooking it! The spicy gravy of the w’et paired with the jackfruit perfectly, and the result was sheer deliciousness. The collared greens and allecha I have made versions of before, with spinach instead of collards and split peas instead of lentils and they were just as good the second go around. Injera also freezes exceptionally well – my platter of injera was from the first batch. The gravy’s for the w’et and allecha can be found on Kittee’s website here, although I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food for your collection. It is a much loved tome of excellence!

I will definitely be experimenting with jackfruit again. It stole the show from the other two – if this was a music group they would be called “Jack the Fruit and Friends”. You appreciate the friends, but it’s all about the hot lead singer, who also happens to be the drummer.


Ethiopian Feast

The complete feast!

For Christmas I gave myself one of the best present’s ever – Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food, by Kittee Berns.

I could barely wait to try out the recipes – Papa Tofu lived on my nightstand for a week, and every night my dream menu changed. Finally, I made some tough decisions and cooked 6 dishes. The result? AMAZING. One review was “just as good as any Ethiopian you will get in a restaurant”. I take that as high praise indeed, and so should Kittee Berns!

The menu was as follows:

Selata (the necessary green salad with the stray jalapeno seed), Ye’Abesha Gomen (Collard Greens, made with spinach – it is difficult to find collared greens in Canada in January!), Ingudai T’ibs (Sauteed Mushrooms), Ye’Takelt Allecha (Gingery Roasted Vegetables), Ye’kik Allecha (Mild Split Peas), and Ye’Meiser W’et (Spicy Red Lentils).

Platter 1: Ye'Miser W'et (top), Ingudai T'ibs (right), Ye'Takelt Allecha (left), salad piled on top

Platter 2: Ye'Kik Allecha (top), Ye'Abesha Gomen (left), more Ye'Takelt Allecha (bottom), and more salad on top

Everything was fantastic! And since I made enough food to feed a small army, I have enough leftovers to last me through the week.W’et sandwiches with injera bread? Yes please!

I highly recommend this zine to anybody – from Ethiopian food lover to those who don’t know where Ethiopia is. The zine is clearly a labour of love, with hand-drawn titles and cute pictures sprinkled throughout. Included are instructions on how to make all those mystery ‘extra’ ingredients like niter kibbeh and berber. It’s the extras that make the difference! Humourous and educational, this is a zine that you can tweak to your taste buds!


Injera Adventures

Stack of injera!

For my Ethiopian Feast I went all out – including making my own Injera. Google quickly told me that injera should be fermented, and is traditionally made with teff flour. Apparently in North America the starter is often a mixture of teff and wheat flour, which is not the classic method. More Google searches quickly eliminated many of the injera recipes that didn’t involve fermenting the starter or used wheat flour. Finally, I stumbled upon this recipe: http://chefinyou.com/2010/02/ethiopian-injera-recipe/.

I followed the directions almost exactly, and the injera turned out fantastic! I find it amusing that you have to ‘feed’ the starter and if everybody knew that fermenting starters made your apartment smell like a brewery everybody would be doing it! I made some minor adjustments at the end, because I ran out of teff flour. My Cole’s Notes method is below:

Day 0 – In a bowl, mix 3/4c. water, 1/2c. teff flour, 1/8t. active yeast

The injera adventure begins!

Day 3 – Stir and feed the starter 1/2c. water, 1/3c. teff flour. The kitchen should start to smell like a brewery!

Pre-feeding

Post-feeding

Day 5 (right before bed) – Stir and feed the starter 1/2c. water, 1/3c. teff flour. Almost done waiting!

Pre-feeding

Post-feeding

Day 6 (VERY early in the morning) – Using 1c. of the starter (I had 2.5c. total), feed the starter:

Pre-feeding

7c. water

4.5c. teff flour

1.5c. chickpea flour (besan)

1c. buckwheat flour

1t. salt

Post-feeding ... almost there!

Day 6 (6h ish after feeding) – Cook the injera! I used my biggest fry pan (~20cm diameter) and 1/3c. of batter for each injera, for a total of 33 injeras. The cooking instructions in the recipe are fantastic!

After final ferment - ready to cook!

I thought these injeras were better than those in restaurants. The ones in restaurants are good only as a scooping tool, and don’t taste great by themselves. Not only are these injeras fantastic scooping tools and compliment the dishes, but they also taste great by themselves! They also freeze great, making future Ethiopian feasts easier!


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