Friday, 4 December 2015

Food Makes you Travel

It's been a quiet autumn here. A lot of resting and healing as our youngest battled chronic illness and prepared for surgery. Also a lot of thinking and reflecting as we came to terms with the terrorist attacks in Paris which hit places we know so well and where we have many friends. 

As usual, food has been a great comfort. Lots of stewed apple, soup and herbal teas. And also something new. I was in Paris the week before the attacks to participate in a wonderful writing workshop. One evening we went out for Ethiopian food. It was so good I decided to have a go at home. I was lucky to find a recipe in the wonderful
World Food Café cookbook (thanks Cath!).

This is my adaptation of that recipe, it is really really yummy and I find tastes very similar to what I had in Paris. We've eaten it three times now and the children really like it. They add grated cheese to theirs which I don't find necessary. They also like to have something to shovel it up with like pitta breads. It is a one pot meal which is my kind of cooking. I hope you enjoy it, especially all my friends from Writers On The Peniche - it really does taste just right to me!

First you need to make the Berberé Paste. Persevere it takes a bit of time but is really worth the effort and can be kept in the fridge for about 2 weeks. My first batch made us 4 Wats - there are 5 of us.
Beberé Paste
2 garlic cloves
1cm/1 inch piece ginger coarsely chopped
1 onion finely sliced
1 tablespoon vinegar {I used herb vinegar}
1/2 a teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds {I used fresh from the pod}
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
4 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp dried chili flakes 
1/2 tsp cinamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground or grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
4 tsps paprika
1/2 tsp allspice

In a blender, blend the garlic, ginger, onion and vinegar until it forms a paste - the smaller the blender dish the better I used my stick blender with the jug it came with, a smaller circumference means it turns to a paste rather than a lot of very very finely chopped stuff - this is also true for pesto, green thai curry paste etc. 

Dry roast the peppercorns, cardamom, coriander, cloves and cumin until toasted. Add chilies and grind with a pestle and mortar then add to the paste. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Store in a jar.

Vegetable and Red Lentil Wat

I mixed veggies and lentils because I'm lazy. From my experience at the restaurant I think normally two separate dishes would be called for.

Butter/Olive oil {the original recipe calls for 45g of butter,  
                  I used approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil and
                  a knob of butter}
1 lg onion thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbsp berberé paste
1 tsp paprika
1tsp turmeric
1tsp ground cardamom seeds
1 clove ground
1 tsp cinamon
3/4 carrots cubed   
3/4 medium potatoes cubed
1/2 a sweet potato cubed
a generous portion of greens finely sliced {I used cabbage}
3/4 cup of lentils {this is very approximate I've used less & more}
400g tin of tomatoes or passata
250ml of stock 
salt and pepper

Melt the fat in a large pan, when hot fry the onion, garlic and berberé paste for 3 minutes. Add the spices and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add all vegetables and stir into the spices. Continue to cook for 10mins stirring occasionally. 

Add the lentils and stir well. Then add the tomatoes and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until all the vegetables are cooked, add more water if needed. Season and serve with fresh herbs such as coriander or basil if you have them and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.     

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