Yotam Ottolenghi’s Eritrean and Ethiopian recipes

An East African feast, including berbere lentils and vegetables, cucumber, coconut and lime salsa – and teff flatbreads to scoop it all up with. All the recipes can be found here:

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/oct/06/yotam-ottolenghi-eritrean-ethiopian-recipes-berbere-vegetables-teff-flatbread

Berbere Paste

The origin for this paste is The World Food Cafe cookbook (kudos).

The variations are that the following recipe quadruples all the portions, uses some Smoked Spanish Parika, and adds a lot more oil. A batch will last at least two months in a jar in the fridge. It is easy to make, though there are a lot of ingredients and it takes a while to make, so it is worth making enough to keep you going for a while. The amount of salt and oil may seem excessive, but remember that when you use the paste you’re only adding about a tablespoon of the paste to a dish.

Ingredients:

  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 3cm piece of ginger – grated
  • 1 large red onion – chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns
  • 2 tsps of cardamom seeds (remove seeds from pods)
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds
  • 2 tsps fenugreek seeds
  • 16 cloves
  • 4 tsps cumin seeds
  • 28 medium sized dried red chillies – these grind up easier later if they are chopped or cut up before roasting
  • 8 tsps paprika
  • 8 tsps of spanish smoked paprika
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup of olive oil

To make:

  • Dry roast all the seeds and the chillies for about 8 minutes in a hot oven. Adjust time as required to avoid the seeds burning.
  • Finely grind all the seeds and the chillies in either a mortar and pestle (in batches) or in a food processor.
  • Bamix the onion, ginger and garlic to a smooth paste, using a little of the oil if necessary
  • Bamix in the powdered spices, salt, and the ground up spices, together with the rest of the olive oil. It is best to do this by adding a little more spice and a little more powder…and blend…and add some more….and blend.
  • Keep in a sealable jar in the fridge.

Berbere haricot beans in pumpkin

England has much going for it. So much that a list of all the truly fantastic things, the wonders, the fond little quirks in all their blessed, thatched glory, oh that would be a long list indeed. Best to leave all that for now and instead simply make the observation that England generally has crap pumpkins. This of course is due to a grave misunderstanding involving a pumpkin, a farmer, and a cow.

Some time long ago, before reality television and ABBA, some English farmer had a bumper crop of fabulously flavoursome pumpkins. The farmer ate them steamed, roasted, mashed, in soups and stews and pies and a hundred other ways until he nearly turned orange. Eventually he could eat no more, and wanting to share his bountiful harvest he chopped up what was left and fed pumpkin to his cows. Eventually his neighbour Ol’ Jim, who was a few herbs short of a Bouquet Garni, took this to mean that pumpkins were only fit for cows to eat. Ol’ Jim’s son surprised everyone when he later went on to found Tesco’s, a company which through its almost complete buyer-side dominance of farm produce trends has sadly contributed to the demise of a truly yummy pumpkin in this country.

And so now you can rarely find a really nice pumkin, and the range of choice is sadly devoid of Queensland Blues, and offers mostly “butternut squash”. The butternut pumpkin is a hit and miss affair in The VegHead’s experience. They’re rarely truly fabulous on their own though they have a nice enough flavour. Sometimes however they can be quite woody and an overall letdown. If you don’t know what a butternut pumpkin looks like, well they’re something like what a particularly boastful Papua New Guinea hills tribesman might wear as a gourd.

As luck would have it, Ginol Silamtena, the creator spirit of Papua New Guinea’s Korowai tribesman was smiling on SheWhoMustBeFed when she last bought a butternut pumpkin. It was a particularly flavoursome individual, with the added bonus of being well shaped to stand upright on an oven tray. Most of the “nose” of the gourd had already been used to make pumpkin soup, that the Loinfruit’s declared worthy of a B+. What was left was the seed pod end, together with about 5cms of the nose.

Lets get to partying with the pumpkin shall we?

Needing and doing together:

  • If it weren’t already obvious – a pumpkin. Butternut if you must, or a better one if you’re especially blessed by Ginol Silamtena. Cut around and down into the “Cavern of Seed” which a very sharp and thin bladed knife, in such a way as to allow the “lid” to be replaced back on later.
  • Scoop out all the seeds and the webbing with a sturdy spoon. Trim the lid.
  • Measure out enough cooked haricot beans by almost filling the voided pumpkin and then tipping them back out into a bowl.
  • Lightly saute a generous scoop of your favourite olives, together with a tablespoon of berbere paste. Once the paste has dissolved mix the beans through gently and thoroughly.
  • Return the mix to the pumpkin. Extra points if you managed to make a perfect amount of mixture so that there is none left over (though now what will you snack on while dinner is cooking smarty-pants?)
  • Secure the lid back on the pumpkin using 3 or 4 small metal skewers (wood skewers will snap for sure if you try to jam them in)
  • Roast on a tray on high for 45+ minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is soft.
  • Serve with a selection of other vegetables

TGV Pumpkin soup

Travelling to Cannes last week on the train, The VegHead knew that the rail buffet sarnies would be as edible as a monkey’s earlobe. The day before travelllng, this soup was made, then warmed up again just before leaving and poured into a thermos.

Paris never seemed as welcoming…

In…

  • 1/2 cup of chopped pumpkin – boiled til soft
  • 1/2 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 teaspoon of Berbere paste
  • olive oil
  • water

Do…

  • lightly saute the chick peas with the paste
  • mash the chick peas with a fork
  • blend the cooked pumpkin with some water, to your desired soupy consistency
  • mix through the mashed chickpeas
  • take the train to Cannes. Take some pita bread with you. Go to the buffet car when you’re hungry and ask for a large waxed paper cup to pour the hot soup into. Watch the fellow passengers eating vending machine sandwiches and feel superior.

Broad bean and aubergine tagine

Very tired last night after a busy weekend so this was perfect. 10 minutes to prepare, about an hour and a quarter to cook…

Ingredients:

  • cup of broad beans (must admit I generally use frozen broad beans if I am putting them in a tagine. The fresh ones are WAY too expensive to use as an ingredient in spicy dishes. Fresh broad beans in season deserve to be respected through being lightly blanched and their flavour enjoyed to the fullest unadulterated)
  • cup of chopped aubergine
  • 1 small preserved lemon – chopped (if you make your own preserved lemons then one quarter of one lemon)
  • 1/3 cup of your favorite olives
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • berbere or harrissa paste (note to self…need to post those recipes up!)
  • handful of chopped parsley and also coriander
  • 1 courgette. Slice in quarters length-ways, and then halve those quarters cross-ways
  • water

How…

  • Preheat oven to scalding. Preferable preheat the tagine too while you get everything else ready
  • If the broad beans are frozen, defrost them in some boiled water for 5 minutes as doing so will reduce baking time by about 20 minutes
  • Mix all the ingredients except for the courgette and pour into tagine
  • Arrange the eighths of courgette in a clockwheel around the top. Drizzle each lightly with a little more olive oil
  • add water until just below the level of the tagine base.
  • Bake the covered tagine for 60 to 75 minutes or until the water is mostly boiled away.

Serve with cous-cous