Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shimbra Asa (Spicy Chickpea Stew) & Atakilt Alicha (Gardener's Vegetables in Aromatic Spices)

Ethiopian food is hands down my favorite food. Strangely enough, I have never attempted to make it at home. In a way, I wanted to keep the mystery alive. I want to go to my favorite restaurant and know that I can't create these flavors in my own kitchen. I also had imagined it to be filled with a lot of fancy, hard to find spices and I didn't want to spend a lot of money buying large quantities of spices I would never use up. I had a lot of excuses to not make it myself.
With that said, something came about me today. A fire inside that burned with the desire to eat my favorite food but to not eat out. Finally I was going to do it. I knew what two dishes I wanted to make and after I did some research I realized I only needed two "specialty" ingredients: Berbere spice and Injera.
Berbere being a very crucial hot pepper spice in many Ethiopian dishes and Injera being a wonderful, spongy type bread to use as your fork. Utensils are not needed.
A quick google search for an Ethiopian market led me to a store directly across the street from my favorite restaurant of the same cuisine, who would have thought? Here I purchased the Berbere and fresh Injera and from there I created an incredibly authentic, perfectly spiced meal with produce from my neighborhood market.

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Shimbra Asa-Spicy Chickpea Stew
serves 4 if served with another dish like Atakilt Alicha
2 tbl canola oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup berbere spice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups water, divided
2 cups chickpea flour

In a medium sized pot, sauce the onions in oil over medium heat until tender and translucent, 10 minutes. Add the garlic, berbere spice, cumin and salt and continue to stir while cooking for 1-2 minutes to toast spices. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, combine the chickpea flour with 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/2 cup water into a ball of soft dough.
When the sauce is ready, break off dime and pea sized pieces of dough into the sauce. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly so the bottom does not burn. While stirring, use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the pieces and keep the mixture chunky with pieces no bigger than a dime.

Atakilt Alicha- Gardener's Vegetables in Aromatic Spices
serves 4 if served with another dish like Shimbra Asa
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 large russet potato, peeled, large dice
2 carrots, large dice
1/2 green cabbage, 1-2" pieces
2 cups green beans, 1-2" pieces
4 cups water
2 tbl tomato paste

In a large pot, saute the onions in oil until tender and translucent, 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt and toast for 1 minute. Add all of the vegetables, water and tomato paste and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed and all of the vegetables are very, very tender. Taste and season with salt.

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