But it totally floored me. There was such complex spicing in the dish. It was earthy, yet extremely fragrant. It wasn't hot or heavy. There was the spongey pancake that came with it that I would later learn is called injera. And there was a small squeeze of lemon that gave everything even more depth. I was in love.
See, big companies are always making their staff fill out surveys and questionnaires to see if their staff are happy and committed to doing a good job. Because less than 100% of people voted that there was no discrimination at work, people decided that it would be swell to recognise other cultures by having one of those international food things that all the kids are talking about these days.
Only, it wouldn't be a normal food day where everyone brings a dish. It would be a battle. A gauntlet would be laid and one cuisine would battle another.
Someone said they'd lead a team to cook Indian food and everything went quiet. I thought it would be funny to flex Ethiopia's muscles (and all 10 dishes in their culinary repertoire) against what many consider to be one of the great cuisines in the world.
One thing on the table will be this dish. Kind of a side dish, but Ethiopian food is usually a huge injera with half a dozen or so different stews (wats) or stir fries (tibs) stacked on top.
1. Wrap half a garlic bulb in foil and put it into a 200oC oven until the cloves are soft (~45 mins). Once done, remove from oven and leave to cool.
2. In some sort of vessel (I make a sort of bed of foil) put 1T berbere, 1T curry powder, 1t cumin seeds, 1t coriander seeds, 1t fenugreek seeds, 1t salt, 1t black pepper, 1t fennel seeds, 10 or so curry leaves. Put it in the oven with the garlic for around 5 mins or until fragrant. Allow to cool then blend in a spice mix or mortar and pestle.
3. Puree 1 celery stalk, 1 medium red onion, 1 big thumb sized piece of ginger, 1 big thumb sized piece of fresh turmeric (otherwise, add 1T to the spice mix in step #2). Cut the garlic in half horizontally and squeeze out the cloves. Add this to the puree.
4. Clean and peal 1 carrot and 3 large potatoes (I used the equivalent in kipflers). Cut into even chunks around 2cm square.
5. In a large pot over a medium heat add 2T ghee (can sub with grapeseed, coconut or palm oil) and the blend from step #2. Stir then add the puree from step #3. Mix for around 5 mins, making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom.
6. Add the potato and carrot and stir. Keep stirring for around 5 mins or so.
7. Add enough vegetable stock to just cover the vegetables and reduce the heat to low. Cook uncovered until the vegetables have softened. If it's getting too dry, add more stock.
I served it with old sourdough bread in lieu of injera and topped it with a fried mixture of green chilli, onion and curry leaves.