Monday, March 5, 2007

Adventures in African Cooking: Making Niter Kebbeh Isn't as Easy as it Looks...

Today was a perfect day to cook. I woke up to find more snow outside. Brr! My poor little doggies had to wade through several inches of new-fallen snow in the yard.

So after some boring household duties, I started making my niter kebbeh. It would be easy! All the recipies I read are pretty straightforward, and I'm a better than average home cook.

I lovingly chopped and gathered the necessary ingredients, melted the butter, and got to work.

Everything started out very well--the mixture in my saucepan got all foamy as it should have. It smelled divine!

Oh. I forgot to mention. I didn't put in the garlic. I know how quickly garlic will burn, so I waited, thinking I would have plenty of time once the milk solids settled to the bottom and the liquid was clear.

That didn't happen before the spices started to burn.

So I removed the whole thing from the burner, skimmed off the foam and removed the solids. Then I strained it through my tiny plastic strainer--which melted. Obviously I should have used cheesecloth.

Then I realized I never put in the garlic. So I tossed it into the hot liquid in my tupperware bowl and watched it sizzle! I took it out when the garlic got soft.

After allowing the niter kebbeh to cool, I tasted it. It doesn't taste burned. Perhaps it's usable after all.

After all that trouble, I don't know that I'll be making niter kebbeh again. It seems I could just use butter--or a butter/olive oil mix--for adequate results, if not strictly authentic.

Here is the recipe I used:

Niter Kebbeh
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter (I admit--I used salted)
1/2 small onion, rough chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger root, chopped
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2-inch piece cinnamon stick (I didn't have stick cinnamon, so I used 1/4 tsp ground)
1 whole clove
scrape nutmeg
1/8 tsp fenugreek
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 40-60 minutes, when the surface is clear and milk solids are on the bottom, pour the liquid through a cheesecloth in to 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.

Since I'm planning my experimental Ethiopian meal for this Wednesday afternoon, I think I'll use regular butter for the doro wat, and use this batch of niter kebbeh to season a side dish of sauteed cabbage, carrots and potatoes--a side that I enjoyed many times at Queen of Sheba in Atlanta.

So now that my niter kebbeh is safely in the refrigerator, I guess I'll get outside for some shovelling.

Stay warm.

Mrs. W

NOTE: Apologies for the formatting problems. Looks like adding photos makes things buggy in the normal editor. Guess I have to brush up on my HTML.

1 comment:

Eren said...

Oh you are a brave woman...I think this dish has too many steps for me, he, he. I think my natives would get too restless.

Thanks so much for the link and I will be visiting your blog often.


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