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African Feasting

I was introduced to Ethiopian food by my Aunt Rosalie and Uncle Dave, who lived in Ethiopia for ten years. I instantly fell in love with the spongy injera bread topped with all sorts of savory stews. I’ve eaten it in Canada, California and even Germany, and have never, ever been disappointed.

I love the family feel of Ethiopian dining. Everyone hunkered around a communal tray, tearing off pieces of injera with their fingers and using it to spoon up savory mouthfuls of stew. I like the closeness, the importance of interacting, sharing and communicating. So cozy and amiable. 🙂

When my CEC friends decided to do African food one night, I happily volunteered to make my top three favorite Ethiopian stews: kale, lentil and split pea, while the others contributed flat breads and other delectable side dishes. 

We started off with a glass of honey wine:

Then Kat made a lusciously bright and cheery tabouli with yellow cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives…

…and a lovely African peanut soup, so smooth and rich and warming.

I confess the stews took me HOURS of chopping until I blistered my chopping hand. 🙂 I don’t have a food processor, but if you use one it wouldn’t take too long at all. 🙂 All that chopping was worth it though as we dipped our flatbread into each stew, added cooling tzaziki on top, and savored the unique seasonings and textures. Delish! And yep, I know tzaziki is Greek, but it sounded so yummy that we fudged the rules a bit and let it in. Twas a worthy entrant, to be sure. 🙂

Kat’s West African Peanut Soup
(From All Recipes)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, very finely diced
2 large bell peppers, (any color) finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juice
8 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 (18 ounce) jar creamy peanut butter
chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, and garlic until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, vegetable broth, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  2. Add rice to soup and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 25 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  3. When rice is cooked, whisk in peanut butter and return to a simmer, and serve. Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts, if desired.
Kat’s Tabouli
(From Betty Crocker’s International Cookbook)
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

3/4 c. cracked wheat (bulgur)
1 1/2 c snipped parsley
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/3 chopped green onions, with tops
2 T. snipped fresh mint or 2 t. crushed dried mint
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 t. salt
1/4 t. fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cover cracked wheat with cold water; let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain; press out as much water as possible between two bowls or two plates.
  3. Place wheat, parsley, tomatoes, green onions and mint in glass or plastic bowl.
  4. Mix remaining ingredients; pour over wheat mixture.
  5. Toss. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  6. Garnish with ripe olives if desired
  7. Note from book: For a softer texture, cover cracked wheat with boiling water, let stand one hour.
  8. Kat’s note written in the margins: Tasty! Maybe add more onion or some garlic. liked the addition of kalamata olives.
Krista’s Misir Wot – Ethiopian Lentil Stew
(From Ethiopian Recipes)
Ingredients:
1 cup Dried lentils
2 qt Water
1/4 cup Minced shallots
1 Clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup Water
2 tbl Berbere
1 tbl Olive oil
1/2 tsp Onion salt
Additional water as needed.

Directions:

  1. Cook lentils in boiling water about 35 – 40 minutes, until soft and tender.
  2. Meanwhile, cook shallots in a dry pan until soft and light brown, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add garlic and continue stirring. Add 1/4 cup water, Berbere, and olive oil.
  3. Drain and mash lentils and add to shallot mixture then stir in onion salt. Simmer 30 minutes to 1 hour. You may need to add more water to keep a consistency similar to oatmeal. Serve hot or at room temp.
Krista’s Yellow Split Pea Stew
Ingredients:
3 cups water plus 2 tablespoons (divided)
1 cup dried yellow split peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1 inch-long piece fresh ginger, peeled,
finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Place 3 cups of the water and the peas in large saucepan. Heat over high heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium; cook until almost tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and turmeric; cook 1 minute.
  3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons water; cover. Cook on low heat 3 minutes.
  4. Add mixture to cooked peas; stir in salt. Simmer until peas are very soft, about 30 minutes. Taste; adjust seasonings.

Krista’s Gomen (Stewed Collard Greens)
(From African Chop)

Ingredients:

1 large bunch collard greens, about 1½ pounds (I used kale)
¼ cup niter kebbeh, ghee or olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 fresh hot peppers, seeded and minced (or to taste)
1 cup broth
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cardamom

Directions:

  1. Tear stems from collard greens, and wash greens well. Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add greens to water and boil briskly for 15 minutes. Drain, squeezing water from greens. When cool enough to handle, slice them thinly.
  2. In a large skillet or stir fry pan, melt the niter kebbeh (or oil). Add onion, garlic, ginger and hot peppers and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add collard greens, broth, salt, pepper and cardamom. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until most of water has evaporated from pan.

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