What to Expect from Sister Vegetarian Recipes...

Sister Vegetarian knows the importance of nutrition without breaking the bank. In lieu of this, I keep the meals to a cost that anyone can create and still stick to a budget. I also include raw vegan meals. Sister has acquired a Raw Vegan Chef Certfication through The Raw Food Network-Ekaya Institute of Living Food Education. I love to cook meals from Africa, India, the Middle East, Greece, Italy, and the list goes on. When I cook, I call it traveling the world without leaving my home. I see cooking as a way to experiment and learn about other cultures, as I also learn more about my roots.

Enjoy the meals. Enjoy the travel. No Passport Required. Just an appetite for delicious and healthy meals.

Peace & Love, Sister Vegetarian.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ethiopian Spicy Lentil W'et (Stew)

I love being a vegetarian. It gives me more opportunities than when I was an omnivore to explore the cultures and cuisines of various countries. As a vegetarian, there is no end to creativity or exploration of meals indigenous to other countries. The world is in your kitchen as a vegetarian. I have traveled to India, China, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Syria, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Polynesia, and more without even leaving my home. I bring to my kitchen the spices innate to these lands through whole foods and my local grocery stores. I bring home the vegetables through farmers markets, whole foods, and local grocery stores. I bring home the stories of these lands through Internet searches and books to find out more about the countries; the recipes; traditions; and, how these meals are traditionally eaten so that I may also experience the traditional way of eating these meals to pay homage to my sisters in these countries and to thank them for the loving recipes that I have been able to duplicate.

Today, we travel to Ethiopia. Some people know of Ethiopia through coffee chains such as Starbucks. For many, knowledge of Ethiopia stops at your coffee order of a Tall or Grande. Many know nothing about the vibrancy and history of this country. How much do we know of Ethiopia? Ethiopia is located in Eastern-Central Africa. It is bordered on the west by Sudan, the East by Somalia, the South by Kenya, and the North East by Eritrea. Since Americans tend to compare everything to our own country (an egotistical trait that I do not agree with, but will do for the sake of explaining Ethiopia's size), Ethiopia would be slightly less than 2 states of Texas put together. That's huge! According to a 2009 statistic, 17% of Ethiopians live in urban areas. The majority of Ethiopians practice either Christianity, Islam, or Judaism.

Vegetarianism in Ethiopia: Vegetarian dishes are indigenous to Ethiopia. You will see vegetarian meals as a "must" for the Ethiopian Muslim community, and also within the Ethiopian Christian community during the various fasting times.

Three main cuisine ingredients epitomizes Ethiopian Cuisine:
Wat, Berbere, and Injera.
Wat (also called wot or w'et): Ethiopian cuisine consists of spicy vegetable dishes (mixed with meat if not vegetarians) in the form of a thick stew called "wat." Wat is served atop a large sourdough flatbread called injera.

Injera: Injera is used in Ethiopian cooking similar to Chapati in other parts of Africa, and India whereas Injera and Chapati are use to pick up stew or stew is placed on the flatbread whereas no utensils are used. Ethiopians and other parts of Africa, and India that uses flatbread with stews eat with their right hands (no utensils used), using pieces of injera or chapati, to pick up bites of entrees and side dishes.

Berbere: made allspice, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt that is a mixture of ground and panroasted spices. Fenugreek and red pepper are vital to Berbere's recipe, and are known as "must-haves" if possible. I wanted this Ethiopian lentil Stew so bad on a Sunday and did not have fenugreek, so I left it out. The stew still turned out superb. When I do acquire some fenugreek to make another batch of berbere, I expect this stew to be "out of this world" next time because it already "knocked my socks off!"

I found my Ethiopian lentil Stew recipe out of the vegetarian cookbook Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant. I discovered this vegetarian cookbook in 1996 when I first entered into the world of vegetarianism. For many vegetarians, this is their first vegetarian cookbook. Although not a full vegetarian cookbook as the cookbook also includes pescetarian dishes; but, the cookbook is mostly vegetarian and vegan dishes. At the time 14 years ago when I discovered this book at my local library, I copied some pages of the book; but, I decided to purchase the book since many of my vegetarian dishes stemmed from this book with slight changes I made, or just cooking as is.
Here is the recipe from Sunday's at Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook to make Ethiopian Lentil W'et (Stew):

How I made the stew:
Picture: My w'et (stew) with flatbread and vegan sour cream on side.

I noted differences in my version from the Moosewood Recipe in parenthesis, or as noted. Also, I did not make injera, or my favorite chapati recipe. I cheated (okay not cheated, but just did a time saving addition) and used vegan tortilla wraps instead to serve as an injera to pick up the soup, and mop up the delicious stew sauce. Instead of using the suggested yogurt as a side with the flatbread, I used vegan sour cream on the side with the "tortillas serving as injera" and noted that in the recipe. The yogurt or sour cream as in Indian and many other African dishes is eaten on the side with spicy-hot stews as a nice cooling and tasty accompaniment with the flatbread. Here my picture of my stew. I hope you make this! It was awesomely delicious, and quick to make. The dried lentils only took 30 minutes to cook as you prepare the Berbere and Niter Kibbeh before I started the recipe. The entire meal took about 1 hour if using already made flatbread such as vegetarian and vegan tortillas, or chapati made ahead of time.
Yemiser W'et (spicy lentil stew)

Servings: 8 (4 if having alone as a meal with nothing else by accompanied by Injera, Chapati, or any flatbread such as a tortilla)

· 1 lb bag of Dried brown lentils
· 1 cup Onion; finely chopped
· 2 Cloves garlic; minced or pressed
· 1/4 cup Niter Kebbeh (see recipe below; I substituted ¼ cup of olive oil for those who are ovo, strict vegetarians, or vegans. You can spice up your olive oil if you like with similar ingredients. )
· 1 TBSP Berbere (recipe below)
· 1 tsp ground cumin
· 1 TBSP Sweet Hungarian Paprika (I used Smoked Paprika which gave it a beautiful taste)
· 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes (I measured into a glass measuring cup 2 15 -1/2 can of chopped tomatoes for 2 cups)
· ¼ cup Tomato paste
· 1 cup Vegetable Stock or Water
· 1 cup Green Peas; fresh or frozen
· Sea Salt to taste
· Black pepper; to taste
· 3 Batches Injera bread (recipe below; or use warmed tortilla or chapati bread)
· Vegan/Vegetarian Sour Cream or Plain yogurt

Rinse and cook the lentils according to package directions (cooks for approximately 30 minutes).

As the lentils are cooking, sauté the onions and garlic in the niter kebbeh (or olive oil), until the onions are just translucent. Add the berbere, cumin, and paprika and saute for a few minutes more, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock or water and continue simmering.

When the lentils are cooked, drain them and mix them into the saute. Add the green peas and cook for another 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
To serve Yemiser W'et, spread layers of injera (or, warmed tortilla or chapatti) on individual plates. Place some sour cream, or yogurt alongside a serving of w'et on the injera and pass more injera at the table. To eat, tear off pieces of injera, fold it around bits of stew, and eat it with your fingers as done traditionally in Ethiopia.
Recipe Source: Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant CookbookServings: 1
· 2 tsp Cumin seeds
· 4 Whole cloves (or, 2 tsp of ground clove or 2 tsp allspice)
· 3/4 tsp Cardamom Seeds ( or, 3/8 tsp of ground cardoman)
· 1/2 tsp Whole black peppercorns (or, ¼ tsp black pepper)
· 1/4 tsp Whole allspice (or, 1/8 tsp ground allspice)
· 1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
· 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds
· 8 To 10 small dried red chiles (I used 8 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce that I chopped)
· 1/2 tsp Grated fresh ginger root (or, 1 tsp ground ginger)
· 1/4 tsp ground Turmeric
· ½ tsp Sea Salt
· 2-1/2 TBSP Sweet Hungarian Paprika (I used Smoked Paprika)
· 1/8 tsp ground Cinnamon
· 1/8 tsp ground Cloves

In a small frying pan, on medium-low heat, toast the cumin, whole cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, allspice, fenugreek, and coriander for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Discard the stems from the chiles. In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, finely grind together the toasted spices and the chiles. Mix in the remaining ingredients.
Store Berbere refrigerated in a well-sealed glass jar (Eco Green Ways: I recycle glass jars, and used this as storage).

Niter Kebbeh
Recipe Source: Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook
Servings: 1
· 1 lb butter
· 1/4 cup onions; chopped
· 2 cloves garlic; minced or pressed
· 2 tsp Ginger; grated, peeled, fresh
· 1/2 tsp Turmeric
· 4 Cardamom seeds; crushed
· 1 Cinnamon stick
· 2 Cloves; whole
· 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
· 1/4 tsp Ground fenugreek seeds
· 1 TBSP Basil; fresh (or, 1 tsp dried)

In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter and bring it to bubbling. When the top is covered with foam, add the other ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer. Gently simmer, uncovered, on low heat. After about 45 to 60 minutes, when the surface becomes transparent and the milk solids are on the bottom, pour the liquid through cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container. Discard the spices and solids.

Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, Niter Kebbeh will keep for up to 2 months.

Note: Remember, ovo, strict vegetarians, and vegans, olive oil can be substituted. You can spice up your olive oil if you like with similar ingredients.

Traditional Injera-Ethiopian Flat Bread (if not using warmed tortilla or chapati as I did to save time)

Servings: 1
· 1 3/4 c Flour; unbleached white
· 1/2 c Self-rising flour
· 1/4 c Whole wheat bread flour
· 1 package Dry yeast
· 2-1/2 cup Water; warm
· 1/2 tsp Baking soda
· 1/2 tsp Salt

Combine the flours and yeast in a ceramic or glass bowl. Add the warm water and mix into a fairly thin, smooth batter. Let the mixture sit for three full days at room temperature. Stir the mixture once a day. It will bubble and rise.

When you are ready to make the injera, add the baking soda and salt and let the batter sit for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a small, nonstick 9-inch skillet. When a drop of water bounces on the pan's surface, take about 1/3 cup of the batter and pour it in the skillet quickly, all at once. Swirl the pan so that the entire bottom is evenly coated, then return to heat.

The injera is cooked only on one side and the bottom should not brown. When the moisture has evaporated and lots of "eyes" appear on the surface, remove the injera. Let each injera cool and then stack them as you go along.

If the first injera is undercooked, try using less of the mixture, perhaps 1/4 cup, and maybe cook it a bit longer. Be sure not to overcook it. Injera should be soft and pliable so that it can be rolled or folded, like a crepe.

INJERA (Flat bread) –alternative quick recipe

Servings: 8
· 4 cups Self-rising flour
· 1 cup Whole wheat flour
· 1 tsp Baking powder
· 2 cup Club soda

Combine flours and baking powder in a bowl. Add club soda plus about 4 cups water. Mix into a smooth, fairly thin batter. Heat a large, non-stick skillet. When a drop of water bounces on the pan's surface, dip enough batter from the bowl to cover the bottom of the skillet, and pour it in quickly, all at once. Swirl the pan so that the entire bottom is evenly coated, then set it back on the heat.

When the moisture has evaporated and small holes appear on the surface, remove the injera. It should be cooked only on one side, and not too browned. If your first one is a little pasty and undercooked, you may need to cook a little longer or to make the next one thinner. But, as with French crepes, be careful not to cook them too long, or you'll have crisp bread that may be tasty but won't fold around bits of stew. Stack the injera one on top of the other as you cook, covering with a clean cloth to prevent their drying out.
~ Remember, enjoy the traditioanl way with no utensils. Use the flatbread to scoop up the stew, and enjoy the flavors of Ethiopia! ~ Sister Vegetarian


VegMama said...

This looks really interesting. I am planning a vegan Ethiopian Feast for Valentine's Day and this would be excellent. Thanks!

Sister Vegetarian said...

Awesome! Let me know how the Vegan Ethiopian Feast goes on Valentine's Day:)Thank you for visiting Sister Vegetarian :)