Ethiopian Fitfit Style Eggs!
There is no shortage of flavor in Ethopian cuisine! A spiced clarified butter called Niter Kibbeh is used in many Ethiopian recipes. The spiced butter can be used to start a recipe, as well as being added late to increase flavor.
A complex spice mix called Berbere is used in Ethiopean recipes too. Berbere is every bit as complex as Moroccan Ras Al Hanout spice mix, but Berbere has much more chile pepper in the mixture. Berbere spice mix recipes do vary from cook to cook and the seasonings are usually adjusted for each individual recipe.
The amount of Berbere spice mix added to a recipe is a matter of personal taste, but for the most part a generous amount of Berbere is added. Many Ethiopian recipes call for even more chile powders than what is already in the Berbere mixture. This means that Ethiopian cuisine can be some very spicy food!
Injera Bread is required for most Ethiopian cuisine. Injera is made with Teff Grass Grain Flour. Teff grows in a limited supply in Ethiopia, but it is also grown in Iran and Iraq. The Persian word for Teff translates to "Love Grass."
Teff grain almost tastes like Buckwheat. Buckwheat Flour is sometimes used to stretch the Teff flour, when it is in short supply. If Teff is not available, substituting Buckwheat Flour is okay.
Injera Bread is made with a thin naturally fermented batter. To make Injera, the thin bread batter is left in open air for 3 days and airborne yeast naturally ferments the batter. The batter is poured on a warm wide flat griddle. The injera is cooked like a gigantic thin pancake.
Injera has a soft spongy texture and it can be easily torn into pieces. The torn pieces are placed between fingers and bits of food are picked up by hand and eaten. The meal is also served on injera. Injera is used as the tablecloth, the plate and the dining silverware utensils. Nothing is wasted! All the food and injera is consumed for a healthy meal.
Ethiopian cuisine offers many great vegetarian recipes, because of religious constraints. Several days a week no meat is eaten, especially on Fridays. The Ethiopian vegan recipes are every bit as tasty as the meat recipes. If you are vegan and you are tired of eating bland raw food and bland steamed vegetables, then Ethiopian food is something to check out!
Ethiopian stews are never made extra saucy or wet, because the stew is served on the Injera Bread. The stews are always cooked, so the excess liquid reduces and the sauce clings to the featured ingredients. This way, the Injera Bread does not get soggy.
Sometimes, just the entrée is served by itself on the Injera Bread. Other times, several items are placed on the Injera, so the presentation looks like a complete meal. Even the salad is placed on the Injera along with the entrée. The salad is also eaten with torn Injera that is held with a guest's fingers.
I do not have an extra wide griddle or flat top grill in my home kitchen, so that makes it impossible to make Injera Bread from scratch. I found pre-made Injera Bread for sale at the Mediterranean Market in Las Vegas. The bread was made locally at an Ethiopian Bakery. A lot of Injera is in a package, but any leftover bread can be used to make Ethiopian style Spiced Crispy Fried Injera Snacks!
Be sure to make the Niter Kibbeh (spiced butter) ahead of time, so the flavors meld. Mix the Berbere spice mixture ahead of time too. This will make cooking Ethiopian food easier to do.
This recipe yields about 3/4 pound.
Niter Kibbeh is Ethiopian spiced clarified butter!
Step 1: Place 3/4 pound of unsalted butter in a sauce pot.
Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic.
Add 2 tablespoons of course chopped ginger.
Add 3 crushed whole cardamom pods.
Add 1 small cinnamon stick.
Add 2 spice cloves.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of whole fennel seed.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground fenugreek.
Step 2: Place the sauce pot over very low heat.
Slowly simmer till the butterfats and liquid evaporate.
Step 3: Pour the spiced clarified butter mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
The Niter Kibbeh can be refrigerated for 7 days.
Berbere Spice Mix:
This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.
Berbere is the main Ethiopian spice mix and it tends to be spicy hot. The spices are crushed together with a mortar and pestle. A food processor or spice grinder can be used too. If ground spices are selected, then crushing the spices is not necessary.
Some of the Berbere ingredients are difficult to find in markets, so treat them as optional ingredients. Cardamom or Ethiopian Korarima is required!
Berbere can be made as a paste with fresh onion, garlic and ginger. Berbere can also be made as a dry spice mix with powdered onion, garlic and ginger.
Rue can be found in Bulgarian or Balkan markets. Rue is also a common ornamental plant. Rue is a natural insect repellant, but it can be a strong skin irritant.
Salt can be part of Berbere, but it is usually not added. Salt should be added separately per recipe.
Step 1: Place 1 tablespoon of ginger powder in a mixing bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon of ground dried basil leaf.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of coriander or Ethiopian Korarima
Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground cardamom.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground fennugreek.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground nutmeg.
Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Add 1 teaspoon of ground clove.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of allspice.
Add 1 tablespoon of ground dried Rue. (Common rue is fine.)
Step 2: Add 1/3 cup of cayenne pepper. (Add 1/2 cup of cayenne to make a full strength Berbere spice mix!)
Add 1/3 cup of Spanish Paprika.
Add 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper.
Step 3: Mix the ingredients together.
Store the Berbere in an airtight container.
Mesir Wat (Ethiopian Red Lentil Puree):
This recipe yields 2 portions.
Step 1: Place 1/2 cup of red lentils in a sauce pot.
Add 2 cups of water.
Add 2 crushed garlic cloves.
Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced ginger.
Add 3 tablespoons of the Niter Kibbeh. (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter)
Add 1/2 tablespoon of Spanish Paprika.
Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 2: Place the pot over medium high heat.
Bring the liquid to a boil.
Step 3: Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
Gently simmer till the red lentils are very soft and the excess liquid evaporates. Stir occasionally.
Step 4: Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
Mash the ingredients together, till the mixture looks like a thick paste.
Keep the Mesir Wat warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
Enquial Fitfit (Ethiopian Fitfit style eggs with peppers and tomato):
This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
Step 1: Add 1 tablespoon of the Niter Kibbeh. (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter)
Add 2 crushed garlic cloves.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
Sauté till the onions just start to brown.
Step 2: Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
Add 1/3 cup of large bite size pieces of tomato.
Add 1 thick sliced green jalapeño pepper.
Add 2 tablespoons of Berbere. (Ethiopian spice mix)
Add sea salt to taste.
Step 3: Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
Gently simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates and the thin sauce can cling to the vegetables.
Keep the stewed vegetable mixture warm over very low heat.
Step 4: Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of the Niter Kibbeh.
Add 2 large eggs.
Lightly season with sea salt.
Use a rubber spatula to scramble the eggs till they are fully cooked.
Keep the eggs warm on a stove top.
Enquial Fitfit with Mesir Wat and Injera:
Pre-made Injera Bread is available at Ethiopian restaurants and Mediterranean food markets. Teff Flour is also available if you want to make the Injera from scratch.
Injera can be rolled into a cylinder shape and wrapped with parchment paper, then warmed in a low temperature oven.
Step 1: Place a wide piece of Injera Bread on a large plate. The thin bread should cover the plate. Fold the edges of the Injera over itself to create a nicer look.
Step 2: Mound a generous portion of Mesir Wat on the Injera.
Step 3: Layer the eggs and stewed vegetables (Enquial Fitfit) on the Injera.
Step 4: Roll 1 Injera Bread into a long cylinder shape.
Cut the rolled Injera in half.
Place one or both Injera Bread halves on the plate. (This Injera bread is used as the eating utensil!)
No garnish is necessary!
Turn some relaxing Ethiopian music. Tear pieces of Injera and use them to scoop up the Mesir Wat and Enquial Fitfit with your fingers. This Ethiopian breakfast entrée is relaxing finger food!