Ethiopian Night

Ethiopian has become my favorite cuisine to eat over the last year or two. It's served differently than most other cuisines serve their...

Ethiopian has become my favorite cuisine to eat over the last year or two. It's served differently than most other cuisines serve their food, almost family style, but literally, you all share one plate. Instead of forks and knives, you use sourdough crepes to pick up the food and eat it. And damn, are those crepes good. Since the arrival of Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero, I've been wanting to make Ethiopian food at home more, and since her book includes a slew of recipes from the spice blend to the crepes, I went to town. Or stayed in my kitchen. You get the idea.

The spice blend, berbere, is really fun to make, especially if you're easily amused by making spice blends. I don't normally make such blends, but it is pretty fun to make, and not difficult at all. Also, all the recipes call for a spiced oil, called nitter kibbe, which is made in a large batch ahead of time along with the spice blend. It's great and buttery and full of yellow turmeric which at any moment may strike down upon your counter and turn it neon yellow. For a while. Good thing yellow is my favorite color.

Traditionally, they make these huge (I mean really huge) crepes and serve them on a (really) huge platter with piles of stews or dishes on top of the crepe. Since, I don't have a way to produce such large and beautiful crepes, I made smaller ones and served them on individual plates. Also, crepes are kind of a bitch to make. I'm not very good at making them. I found the smaller pan I tried, the more success I had. But I still didn't have boatloads of successful crepes. I did however have some. And with those, I shoveled delicious Ethiopian food into my mouth. Purpose served.

When I get Ethiopian food at a restaurant, I always get the vegetarian sampler, because I could never imagine getting to eat only one of these dishes per visit. The more variation, the better. When you're making it at home, it results in cooking like five dinners worth of food in preparation for one dinner. So basically, it was a ton of work. But it was totally worth it, and I will totally do it again :) 

I made this big spread for my friends, who seemed pleased by the authenticity of the dishes.  I think it's all about the spice blend. That's what gives it that perfect restaurant-quality. From the left to right, I made ingudai tibbs, which are portabello mushrooms in berbere sauce, but'echa, which is chickpea shallot and jalapeƱo eggy crumbles, Seitan tibbs, which is seitan in berbere sauce, yemisir wat, a spicy berbere lentil stew, and potatoes and green beans in berbere sauce. My favs were mushrooms and the egg-like chickpea crumbles, though all were good.

For dessert, I made the Ethiopian Chocolate Flourless Torte, the last recipe in the book. It's silken tofu-based, with a little berbere spice. I made this during testing, but used cayenne for mexican chocolate cake, my fav. This worked just as well. I could taste just a hint of spice. I suppose that's how it outta be. I'm always tempted to put way too much cayenne or spice thinking I won't taste it otherwise and they turn out ungodly spicy. These tasted kind of brownie-like, which is good. Everybody like brownies, right?

Overall, I had a great time cooking, a great time eating, and a great time hanging with my friends and feeding them delicious food! I'll raise a spicy brownie to many more dinners like this one :)

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