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Ingredient Mon May 21 2007
If you haven't given homemade Ethiopian food a try because of the sheer difficulty of mixing up a proper berbere, now is your chance. One of my favorite shops in Chicago, Kukulu Market sells the spice mixture in large quantities for a low price (around $6 for a pint-size container!). You can also purchase three large rounds of injera for only $1.50 and Niter Kebbeh, a delicious spiced butter. Whenever I bring home the spongy and sour flat bread made with tef flour, I feel such gratitude for the fact that I live in a city with such a multitude of foods and ingredients available. Kukulu also sells Ethiopian coffees, spices for chai and traditional coffee sets. It's located in Edgewater, home to a large Ethiopian community, on Broadway, right across from the Ethiopian Diamond.
If you have zero to little experience with Ethiopian food, the owners are delightful and love to talk about their food. Ask them questions and they'll be certain to give informative answers.
Or, you can use my recipe for Miser Wat.
A friend of a friend, an Ethiopian woman, taught me how to make this using language such as, "Then you add some spices and garlic." Being a cook who just eyeballs things, I can't guarantee that the measurements are perfect, but since I'm not sharing a recipe on how to bake a cake, there's a little more room for error. I also like to make this dish with frequent taste tests to make sure it's coming along.
Miser Wat - Ethiopian Red Lentils
2 cups red lentils
1 medium to large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
Berbere (amount depends on desired spiciness, start with 2-3 Tablespoons and add more to taste)*
salt (start with 1 tsp, add more as necessary)
oil (I use 4-5 Tablespoons)
2 T Niter Kebbeh (spiced butter) - omit if you'd like to make this vegan.
4 - 5 cups water
*To help the color of the lentils without adding too much heat, you can use paprika in addition to the berbere.
1. Rinse and drain the lentils. Pick out any stones or grit. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and sauté for about 5-10 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add berbere and garlic and sauté for approx. 5 minutes.
3. Add lentils and salt, stirring to coat with the oil and spices. Add the water. Stir and bring to a boil.
4. Cover and reduce to a simmer, stirring often, until the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender. I recommend tasting the lentils frequently and adding berbere and salt as necessary. Be sure to under salt if you are going to add the spiced butter at the end, or just wait to salt until after you add the butter to avoid over salting. It can take up to 2 hours for the lentils to finish.
5. When the lentils are finished, stir in 2 tablespoons of the butter and serve with injera and a small salad of lettuce, tomato and onion dressed with oil and vinegar. It will help to cut some of the richness of the lentil stew.