Milk Street: Flavors of Ethiopia (Ep 523)
Ethiopian Stewed Collard Greens (Gomen Wat)
Start to finish: 1 hour (20 minutes active)
Gomen wat translates as “collard greens stew.” In Ethiopia, we tasted multiple versions of the hardy greens braised with beef (in which case, the dish is called gomen besiga), but we prefer the lighter, brighter, more flavorful version in which the greens are cooked without meat. Ethiopian butter, made from fermented milk, infuses dishes to which it’s added—including the gomen wat we sampled—with a unique depth of flavor and appealing funkiness, not unlike a fragrant cheese. Indian ghee, which is easier to find, is a
reasonably good substitute. Look for ghee in either the refrigerator section near the butter or in the grocery aisle near the coconut oil. If you cannot find it, use salted butter in its place but also add 1 teaspoon white miso along with the broth to subtly boost flavor. If for some reason collard greens are not available, curly kale will work, but reduce the greens’ cooking time to 15 to 20 minutes.
Don’t forget to reserve 1 tablespoon of the minced ginger to stir in at the end. It adds a bright zing to the rich, stewed greens.
3 tablespoons ghee (see headnote)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger, divided
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 bunch (about 1 pound) collard greens, stemmed and roughly chopped
11⁄2 cups low-sodium beef, chicken or vegetable broth
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 or 2 Fresno or serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a large pot over medium, melt the ghee. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, 2 tablespoons of ginger, the cardamom and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
Add about half of the collards and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, then add the remaining collards. Stir in the broth and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the collards are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Off heat, stir in the chili(es), lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon ginger. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish.
Ethiopian Chicken Stew (Doro Wat)
Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (30 minutes active)
Servings: 4 to 6
Doro wat, a succulent chicken stew fragrant with spices and savory-sweet with a preponderance of onions, is the national dish of Ethiopia. We were taught how to make it by home cook Tigist Chane in Addis Ababa. A generous measure of berbere, Ethiopia’s signature spice blend, gives the dish its deep reddish-brown hue. Berbere is sold in spice
shops and most well-stocked supermarkets; because its chili heat varies from brand to brand, we call for a range in the amount. Alternatively, you can easily mix your own berbere (p. TK). If you wish to hone your knife skills, feel free to chop the 2 pounds of onions by hand, but a food processor gets the job done quickly. Trim, peel and quarter the onions, then pulse about 10 times until finely chopped; it’s fine if the pieces are a bit uneven. As a cooking fat, we use Indian ghee to mimic the flavor of Ethiopian fermented
butter. Look for ghee in the dairy case next to the butter or in the grocery aisle near the coconut oil. If it’s not available, butter is a fine substitute. Whole hard-cooked eggs are traditionally simmered into doro wat at the end, but we prefer sliced hard-cooked eggs as an optional garnish, along with chopped fresh chilies. Injera, a spongy, slightly sour Ethiopian flatbread, is the typical accompaniment, but rice or warmed naan are good, too.
Don’t worry if the onion and spice mixture looks dry after the chicken is stirred in. As it cooks, the chicken gradually releases moisture—so much so that the stew will require uncovered simmering at the end to reduce and thicken the liquid.
5 tablespoons ghee, divided
2 pounds (3 large) red onions, finely chopped (see headnote)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup berbere (see headnote)
10 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and halved
3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 jalapeño or Fresno chili, stemmed, seeded (if desired) and finely chopped (optional)
2 or 3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced (optional)
Lemon wedges, to serve
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee until shimmering. Add the onions and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat if the onions begin to brown before they soften, until lightly browned and completely softened, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons ghee, the berbere and 3⁄4 cup water. Stir in the garlic, followed by the chicken. Reduce to medium- low, cover and cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, about 30 minutes.
Uncover, increase to medium-high and cook, stirring and scraping along the bottom of the pot, until the stew is thickened and a wooden spoon leaves a brief trail when drawn through the sauce, 5 to 8 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with the scallions, chilies (if using) and sliced eggs (if using); serve with lemon wedges on the side.
Make Your Own Berbere
Vibrant in both color and taste, berbere (bear- Bah-ree) is a bold spice blend that is the backbone of numerous Ethiopian dishes. Its primary ingredient is dried red chilies—also called berbere—which are finely ground with numerous dried herbs and spices. Though blends vary, most include coriander, garlic, black cumin, ginger, basil, ajwain, nigella, fenugreek and Ethiopian cardamom (which resembles dried figs). Though berbere is available at well-stocked supermarkets and online spice shops, it’s easy to make a simpler homemade version using readily available spices.
1⁄4 cup smoked sweet paprika
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
11⁄2 teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder
11⁄4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon dried basil
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
In a small bowl, stir together 1⁄4 cup smoked sweet paprika, 2 tablespoons sweet paprika, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 11⁄2 teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder, 11⁄4 teaspoons ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon dried basil (ground or crushed to a powder in an spice mill or mortar and pestle) and 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin. Keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot for up to two months.
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PHOTO CREDITS: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES