Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ethiopian greens, misser wot, and injera

I figured it was time to try something from the Recipes from Afar and Near cookbook that we got at the Pacific Science Center's Lucy's Legacy exhibit. I didn't have everything I needed to make the berbere, or red pepper spice mix, that is present in so many Ethiopian dishes (no fenugreek for one) and thought it would be wise to see and taste an expertly made injera bread before trying to make my own, so I went to the tiny Zuma market (and restaurant) in Greenwood. There I bought a pound of berbere, some red lentils, a big bag of whole fenugreek, and a bag of injera. The injera are enormous! Fifteen inches in diameter, and the bag of 10 must have weighed three pounds.

For dinner I made the greens (no more specific name is given) and misser wot.

The greens recipe calls for collards (and spinach if desired), jalapeño or bell peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, and oil. I used collards with a few mustard greens that I had on hand, and a jalapeño and an Anaheim pepper. It's a robustly flavored dish; I'd have been happy to use several hot peppers but didn't want to be the only one who would eat it. It was good but had an unfortunate bitterness. I think this was because the garlic and ginger were too old, and also because they are added very late, at a point where you definitely don't want to overcook the greens. Next time I'd add them to the browned onions and mellow them before adding the greens and peppers.

The misser wot, or red lentil stew, consists of a ton of onions, olive oil, garlic, ginger, berbere, salt, red lentils, and tomato paste. It has a very nice sweetness from the onions and some heat from the berbere. It's quite nice. I'll bet the leftovers are going to be very good tomorrow.

We ate both with our hands by tearing off pieces of injera and pinching bite-sized portions of the greens and misser wot. The injera is very spongy and tears easily, but is surprisingly strong. It gets a little soggy after a while, but holds up well. It has a tangy flavor that I imagine not everyone would enjoy on its own (I liked it) but it worked wonderfully in combination with the other dishes.

It was a fun meal, and easy to prepare, once I got over the sobbing caused by several hours of onion chopping.

2009-03-22 Update: I may like cold leftovers more than most people, but the cold misser wot with injera is excellent! As I expected, the flavors have improved overnight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On the contrary, collards greens get better with a long cooking time. Try braising them on low for an hour or hour and a half in chicken stock next time. They hold up well and the bitter component goes away.