Ethiopian Lentil Stew (Misir Wot)

If you can’t stand the heat, then you better stay out the Ethiopian Kitchen!

It’s not that Ethiopian food doesn’t have a range of mild flavoured dishes, they do, but pepper is so essential to the cuisine that to avoid it is to essentially ban yourself from the whole experience!

Ethiopian Cuisine: I haven’t tasted anything so lip-smackingly delicious in a good long time! I’m gonna be stuck on this for a while!

Ok admittedly the last time I tasted authentic Ethiopian cuisine was about a year ago where I just happened to walk by a small take away 5 minutes walk down Kingsland High Street in Dalston, London. They offer a selection of stews or ‘wots’ with a combination or rice or the infamous Injera bread, all for just £4!!

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Kingland High Street, Dalston, London

Many Ethiopian’s are Orthodox Christians who traditionally eat vegan on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as other special days,  hence why there is such a wide selection of vegan/vegetarian Ethiopian dishes.

This recipe is adapted from the more classic Misir Wot, which literally means ‘lentil stew’; I have added sweet potato, coconut milk and spinach to this mix.

This is also my first time using my new found Ethiopian spice blend home made brebere which I made virtually a few minutes before assembling this dish. I didn’t taste the stew till the very end, and when I did, let me tell you I almost burnt my mouth going for a second helping, I was surprised! With such a wide range of spices all packed in one blend, I was expecting a bitter, confused taste, instead – pure harmony, I could taste everything, not overpowering at all. So step away scotch bonnet! There’s a new kid in town!

More Ethiopian dishes to come!

 

Ethiopian Lentil Stew (Misir Wot) 

 

INGREDIENTS

2 medium sized sweet potatoes – cut into chunks

1/2 white onion, sliced

2 large garlic cloves – crushed

1 tsp finger chopped fresh ginger

1 tbsp coconut oil – frying

1 1/4 cup green lentils – pre-cooked

1 tbsp Tomato Paste or 2 plum tomatoes (crushed) with a little juice

2 1/2 tsp of Homemade Berbere Spice

1 cup Coconut Milk

2 cups of boiling water

1 chicken or vegetable stock jelly

3-4 Pimento Seeds

1 generous handful of spinach

 

METHOD

  1. In a bowl dissolve the stock jelly in the 2 cups of hot water with the pimento seeds. Set aside.
  2. Soften the onions slowly in a deep pot with the coconut oil for 5-6 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and ginger – 2 minutes
  4. Stir in the berbere spice, take it off the fire to allow it to slowly cook
  5. Return the pot to the fire and add the tomatoes, allow it to reduce for 2 minutes, until the water has evaporated.
  6. Add the sweet potato and stir
  7. Add the lentils, stir (medium heat)
  8. Add the stock liquid, pimento seeds and coconut milk. Cover and allow to simmer for 10-5 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender
  9. Stir the spinach in at the end. Season to taste.
  10. Serve with rice

 

One Pot Series: Guyanese Metemgee

 

The One Pot Series: If you want to spend less time washing dishes and more time enjoying tasty food and company, then read on!

Coming from a family of six hungry bellies with large appetites, The One Pot was essential for our survival. I really don’t know how my parents managed without it. From Cook-up Rice to Metemgee, it just made economic sense; It settled many an argument, it brought order out of chaos, it quieted the storm. “You don’t like Cassava? Well there’s sweet potato..” The way Mum would organise the provision before my brother could stab me in the hand with his fork, his true target being the last piece of dumpling, was genius.  And then there’s the sauce…my word. My word. It can only be compared to liquid gold: the pot would be clean and gleaming when we were done.

Metemgee  is a Guyanese Creole stew of sorts made with dumplings, cassava, yam, plantains, okra and a hot peppery coconut milk sauce. It’s normally served with salt fish or crispy fried fish of your choice. The immense amount of sauce that the Metem provides means you really don’t need to prepare a separate gravy with the fish.

You can add any number of root vegetables to it: potatoes, edoes, white or yellow yam. It’s up to you. Just be sure you maintain a thick rich sauce throughout, the dumplings once added will help with that.

It’s always best to cook this dish in stages as some things cook quicker than others; the Okra and Plantain for example should be cooked last and separately as they soften quickly and you want it to keep its shape.

And finally don’t judge a book by its cover. When this dish begins to cool down, it may look like a hot mess, but the smell from the stew is so rich, you won’t be turning your nose up for too long! As it’s coconut milk the dish won’t last beyond 2 days before turning sour, so be sure to only cook want you know you will eat over the weekend!

Guyanese: Metemgee

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

2 Sweet Potatoes

1 whole Cassava (or 5 frozen pieces)

2 Ripe Plantain

6 Okra Fingers

2 Corn on Cob

1 Medium Onion – chopped finely

3 Garlic – crushed

3-4 Fresh Thyme sprigs or good pinch of dried Thyme

1 Whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper

2 spring onions, sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp tomato paste

1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger

1 1/2 cups Coconut Milk

Dash of Maggi all-purpose liquid seasoning

1 tsp Garam Masala

1 Vegetable Stock cube

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Corns

1 1/2 cup Water

Oil (to fry)

 

For the Dumplings

2 cups of plain flour

1 pinch of salt

1 tbsp butter/ margarine

1 cup milk

 

Method:

1. Peel all the root vegetables and slice length ways into 7″ long chunks. Try not to slice them too thinly as they may disintegrate whilst cooking. Place the vegetables in a large bowl filled with cold water.

Make the dumpling by mixing all the ingredients listed under ‘dumplings’ together. Shape the dumplings as you wish and refrigerate for later.

2. Cut the ripe plantain into 3 chunks (with the skin on) and place in a separate pot of water to boil.

3. Trim the Okra ‘top and tail’ and set aside.

4. Fry the onions, garlic and spring onions in a large, deep pot for about 3 minutes before adding the tomato paste and ginger. Allow it to fry until the onions have softened.

5. Add Garam masala and stir for 1 minute before adding the coconut milk. Allow to simmer for 1 minute before adding the thyme.

6. Add the water and scotch bonnet pepper to the pot. Then place the root vegetables in the pot. Allow pot to simmer for 10 minutes before removing the pepper.

7. Add the vegetable stock cube and season further to taste.

8. In the meantime, in another pot, boil the plantain. This should take no more than 15 minutes. strain the water and allow it to cool.

9. Allow the pot to simmer until the potatoes start to soften. Then add the dumpling pieces and okra, placing them gently at the top of the stew, be careful not to stir the pot too much.

10. Season to taste.

 

Cherry Coconut Lime Ice Cream

 

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A few weeks ago I was catching up with a couple of friends, when quite naturally the conversation turned to food and some of the interesting food combinations we have had on our travels and experiments with chocolate in our baking. In that moment, Catherine interrupted my train of thought as she more or less re-enacted the first time she tried Cherry and Coconut Ice Cream in Barbados.

“It has to have the little bits of coconut in it” she explained, leaving the rest of us salivating at the thought. I immediately began to picture the combination, but the thought of grating a whole coconut on a lazy Sunday morning, just wasn’t my idea of fun. The conversation moved on, but the challenge never left me.

I knew I wanted to make an egg-less ice cream, one that also didn’t require an ice cream machine nor took all day to set. It also needed to be relatively inexpensive, so substituting fresh ingredients for frozen or tinned was the way around that.

The end result…how do I begin to describe this: This is the best tasting ice cream I have had in a long time. I almost finished it. The whole process is so lickably beautiful, it’s hard to describe! literally you could have ice cream the same day ready to serve with your evening meal. I love it and I know you will too!

This recipe is dedicated to Catherine and Corinne, my inspiration and voluntary taste testers – Thank you so much ladies! xx

 

Cherry Coconut Lime Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8 - 10 Scoops
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Juice of 1 lime

140g caster sugar

125g frozen sweet black cherries

200ml tin coconut milk

300ml double cream

 

Method

In a small pot, squeeze the juice from the lime with the sugar and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the frozen cherries and simmer for 2 minutes, you can begin to mash-up the cherries a little at this point.

IMG_7651Pour the cherry mixture into a plastic or stainless steel bowl and stir in the coconut cream. Leave to cool.

In a separate bowl, whip the double cream in a large bowl until it holds its shape, then gradually stir in the cherry mixture.

Put the bowl in the freezer for about 1 hour, until the mixture is set about 3cm in from the edges.

Remove from the freezer and whip up the mixture using a whisk or fork.

When it’s fairly smooth, return to the bowl to the freezer for another hour, then repeat the whisking one more time.

Transfer the ice cream to a plastic container, cover and freeze until firm.

Before serving, transfer the ice cream to the fridge for 30 minutes to soften it. Garnish with grated lime rind before serving.