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Friday, February 22, 2013

.Gena Revisted {Ethiopian Recipes}.

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Habi hand grinding fresh roasted Ethiopian coffee beans. A coffee ceremony with sweet popcorn served is an absolute must!


 I have been meaning to share these recipes for weeks now, but time just slips through my fingers. I am finally getting around to sitting down and typing these out. These Ethiopian recipes will most likely only be of interest to families who have adopted children from Ethiopia (or perhaps other African countries), but maybe if you are a foodie, or like to experiment in the kitchen, you will find a recipe that interests you.

Ethiopia celebrates Christmas on a different day then we do here in America. This year Gena (Christmas) was on January 7th. We kept Habi home from school, and we went all out in celebrating. The day ended up being really fun and special, and we made some great memories together as a family. It is very important for us to be able to tie in Ethiopian culture with our American life. I never want my boys to forget their beautiful heritage or to be ashamed about where they came from, so we celebrate it whenever we can. Our family is really blessed to have Habi in our family, he came to us older and with so many memories from his life and Ethiopian culture that he can share with us. There is so much that he has taught us, and it makes my heart  happy that these traditions will be passed down to Jamesy.

I love Ethiopian cuisine. I could seriously eat it every. single. day. I know that probably sounds strange to people who have more milder taste preferences, but as for me - I crave it. Many of the recipes are spicy. The key spice used in Ethiopia is berbere - it is a red pepper spice. The spiciness of a dish is typically determined by how much of this spice is used. You can purchase berbere here. I also found a recipe for it here. We purchase ours in Ethiopia and bring it back with us, as it is much cheaper that way.

Most Ethiopian dishes are served on top of injera (a large sour flat bread), the food is eaten sans silverware and is scooped up using broken pieces of injera. Ethiopians only use their right hand when eating, and the left hand is placed on their lap. Typically a meal is served on a big communal plate that everyone shares - meals are very relationship oriented. I have tried to make injera before, but we really prefer to buy it. We buy it in bulk and freeze it, and it has worked beautifully for us. You can purchase injera here. We typically purchase the yellow label injera. It is very authentic tasting - Habi agrees.

I also have a confession. Doro Wat - the signature Ethiopian chicken stew (which is Jim and Habi's favorite dish) calls for Niter Kebbeh which is a spiced butter. You will notice in my recipe, that I only have regular butter listed in the ingredients. That is all that I use. I do not spend hours making the Niter Kebbeh, because when I have done so, the wat tastes no. different. Habi LOVES my Doro Wat and says that it is very authentic, and Habi is very truthful when it comes to food! Ha! So, save yourself some time, and try it my way. {grin}

Here are the recipes that I made for Gena. I have a few others that we make regulary as well, but I will share them another time. None of these recipes are original to me, although I have tweaked some of them with the help of Habi. A few of them are directly from Habi (he is an amazing chef), and most of them are from scouring the Internet the past few years. Unfortunately when I printed these out for my recipe box, I did not print out the source. I apologize for that.

Lentil Sambusas (not very spicy)
A fried pastry with a savory filling - could be used as an appetizer.



2 T olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1 T paprika
1 T ginger, minced
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 C dry red wine
2 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 C lentils
16 won ton wrappers


In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute until tender. Add paprika, ginger, allspice, cayenne, coriander, cardamom, and cumin, and saute for 30 seconds. Add red wine, stock, and lentils, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Cut the won ton wrappers in half to form rectangles. Place a wrapper vertically on a flat surface. Put a rounded T of filling on the lower ends of one of the rectangles. Fold the left bottom corner up and over the filling until it meets the right edge of the wrapper and forms a triangle. Next, flip the filled triangle up and over, folding along its upper edge. Then fold it over to the left on a diagonal. Continue folding until you reach the end of the wrapper and have formed a neat triangular package. Repeat with the other wrappers. Deep-fry each pastry until golden in 2-3 inches of oi; heated to 360 F. You can keep the fried sambusas in a warm oven until they are all ready to be served. These are best eaten hot.



Timatim Firfir
An Ethiopian style bread salad - uses injera. This can be made ahead of time.


1 tsp berbere
1/3 cup wine (white, rose or red) or tej
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C olive oil
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 Jalapeno, chopped
1/2 Anaheim pepper, chopped
1 clove diced garlic.
1 fresh injera ripped into small pieces


Mix berbere with wine. Add lemon juice and olive oil. Add tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic, Mix well.
Break injera into small pieces and add to mixture. Let sit until liquid is absorbed (about 1 hour). Serve cold. Refrigerate mixture in bottle or jar.

Key Sir (not spicy)
Red beets with potatoes. This can be made ahead of time.


1 lb. yellow potatoes -peeled and bite size
1 lb. red beet roots
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
2 T peanut oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/4-1/2 tsp. salt - to taste
1/4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
Pinch of ground fenugreek seeds


Wash and trim the beets, and simmer in a medium saucepan for about 35-45 minutes (depending on size), or until tender. Remove the beets from the liquid, and slice in half. Remove the skins from the beets - they should rub right off with a paper towel. Dice into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, gently simmer the peeled and bite-sized diced potatoes for 20-25 minutes, or until tender. Drain the potatoes, and let them dry out a little bit in the warm pot.

While the beets and potatoes are cooking, dice the onion, and place it in a large serving bowl with the lemon juice and peanut oil. When the potatoes have dried off a little, add them (still warm) to the onion mixture, and gently combine. Add the beets, and stir through until everything is a lovely shade of pink. Toast the yellow mustard seeds just until they start popping, then pour them over the salad, along with the salt and fenugreek powder. Stir well to combine. you can make this up to three days in advance. keep tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Kik Alicha (not spicy)
A vegetarian, yellow split pea stew. This can be made ahead of time.


1 T olive oil
2 large red onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
3 C water
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper -to taste
1 C yellow split peas - soaked overnight and rinsed


In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, dry cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. Add the oil and when it begins to sputter, add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute, Add the water, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the split peas, return to a boil and partially cover, reduce heat and maintain a simmer until peas have softened, around 45-60 minutes, Watch to see if you need to add more water, Mash the peas. Serve warm.

Gomen (mildly spicy)
Fragrant collard greens


2 bunches of collard greens
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 C olive oil
2-3tsp each of minced garlic and ginger
2 Jalapenos, deseeded and chopped
salt - to taste

Pull off the leaves of the collard greens and discard stems. Tear the leaves into medium-sized pieces (just small enough to get them into the pot for cooking - you'll chop them into smaller pieces later) and wash them well under cold water. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and add the greens. Cook for about 10-15 minutes - the greens should change color and soften. Drain in a large colander and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out all of the excess moisture and chop into small pieces. Set aside. Cook the onions dry on medium heat until they start to soften and turn translucent, about seven minutes, Add the oil and cook for several minutes. Then add the garlic, ginger, and jalapenos and saute for several more minutes. Add the chopped greens and stir well, ensuring that the greens are thoroughly mixed in with other ingredients. Add salt and cook on medium-low until the greens have soak in the flavor.

Fresh Ethiopian cheese. Must make this a day in advance.


1/2 gallon buttermilk plus 1 C whole milk
2/3 C lemon juice
salt and pepper


Bring the buttermilk and milk to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and pour in the lemon juice. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until curds begin to form. Remove from the heat.
Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth. Spoon the curdled milk into the sieve or collander and rinse with cold, running water to remove any lingering lemon flavor from the curds. Place over a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and let drain for 8 hours or overnight. Discard the liquid. Place the cheese in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Doro Wat (spicy)
Spicy chicken stew


8-12 chicken thighs
4 T fresh lemon juice
4 tsp salt
4 onions, finely chopped
1/2 C butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 - 1 C Berbere (1 C will be very spicy)
4 T paprika
1/2 C dry red wine
3 C. water water
1 hard-boiled egg per person
Freshly ground black pepper


Rinse and dry the chicken pieces. Rub them with lemon juice and salt. In a heavy enamel stew pot, cook the onions, dry, over moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Do not let brown or burn. Stir in the butter. Then add the garlic and spices. Stir well. Add the berbere and paprika, and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Pour in the wine and water and bring to a boil. Cook briskly, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Pat the chicken dry and drop it into the simmering sauce, turning the pieces about until coated on all sides. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, pierce the hard-boiled eggs with the tines of a fork, piercing approximately 1/4" into the egg all over the surface. After the chicken has cooked, add the eggs and turn them gently in the sauce. Cover and cook the doro wat for 15 more minutes. Add pepper to taste.



Please share this post with other adoptive families. My hope is that I have done some of the leg work, so that other families can celebrate their childrens' amazing culture and heritage. All of these recipes have been made by me and tasted by my family. They are all amazing, and they all have Habi's stamp of approval as authentic-tasting. Enjoy!


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