All the fragrances and flavors of classic Ethiopian Recipes on one big platter. Slow cooker Chicken Doro Wat and this quick Injera Recipe are the base of a truly exotic meal!
Sometimes I wonder why certain cities have large specified cultural communities within them. What caused so many immigrants from a particular country to gravitate toward one US city? Was there one family that settled there first then invited their friends to follow, or did it have something to do with the climate and agriculture?
I may not be sure about the “whys” of this occurrence, but it does make eating around the United States very interesting. There are certain cities we travel to, knowing we will get fantastic Vietnamese, Korean, Indian or Ethiopian cuisine and we look forward to those meals more than any other attraction.
Several major American cities have large Ethiopian populations with amazing restaurants and markets throughout. Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas are among the largest.
When we visit family in Dallas, we always gorge ourselves on Ethiopian recipes because we know we may not enjoy this exciting and complex cuisine again for a long time. That is, unless I decide to make it at home.
A classic Ethiopian platter that you receive in a restaurant, is full of possibilities. There are so many Ethiopian recipes it’s a little hard to nail it down.
I can tell you, a family-size Ethiopian platter usually consists of:
- 1-2 meat stews, made of chicken, beef or lamb
- 1-2 lentil/legume dishes, such as Mesir Wat
- 1-2 cooked vegetables, including yellow peas, mixed vegetable stews and collard greens
- 1 raw vegetable dish, usually a simple lettuce or tomato based salad
- and Ayib, fresh Ethiopian cheese
All these dishes are served on a large platter covered with Injera, Ethiopian sourdough crepes. Then more Injera is served on the side. The Injera is tangy and pliable, and is used instead of utensils to pick up the rest of the food. You simply tear off pieces of the bread and pinch up the other dishes with it.
As we don’t have Ethiopian markets in Asheville, NC, my Ethiopian recipes have had to be tweaked quite a bit. Most dishes use berbere paste and spiced butter. Lacking these standard Ethiopian ingredients, I adjusted the list of spices to incorporate the same flavors of traditional spicy chicken Doro Wat stew, using ingredients you can find in a regular grocery store. I’m pretty pleased with the results.
The other major adjustment I made was to the Injera recipe. This sourdough pancake, of sorts, is usually made of teff flour and fermented for several days before cooking. With a busy schedule, I don’t start anything 3 days before I plan to eat it, so this had to be addressed.
After several test runs, I ended up using a mix of standard flour and buckwheat flour, adding a hefty dose of club soda and vinegar. The results were fantastic for a quickie version, tender, rollable and undoubtedly sour. …And absolutely no waiting.
Ethiopian platters are a great idea for your adventurous dinner guests. There’s nothing like sitting around a large colorful platter of exotic dishes, scooping them up with your hands. Oh the memories you will make.
You can start the Doro Wat in the slow cooker before you head off to work, then whip up the Injera, Mesir Wat, Ayib (even Yellow Peas and Collards and Tomato Salad if you like) when you get home. Most of these can be made ahead as well.
A divine feast fit for African royalty!
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