The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not.
~Cutting for Stone~
I have come to the end of a very good book. It's always a little bittersweet. During the last month, it has been a good companion, taking me to the far away land of Ethiopia, stretching me in the most unexpected ways. It's called Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. Beautifully crafted, it's a deeply felt story about love, loss, and forgiveness, interspersed with nuggets of wisdom.
As a way to celebrate this moving book, I am making one of our favorite Ethiopian dishes tonight, called Crispy Berbere Chicken over Ethiopian Lentils. Berbere is an Ethiopian spice mix, made with a combination of spices grown in the region. It's similar to curry in that it's a spice blend, but it is made with different spices. My favorite way to use Berbere is to use it as a rub for chicken, lamb or tofu, and to flavor lentils or stews. However you use it, it will transport you to foreign lands. Flavors are deep and exotic and warming, perfect for the cold of fall and winter.
I think a copy of this book along with some homemade Berbere Spice Mix (see recipe below) would make a really nice gift. It would be especially appropriate for people in the medical profession who like to cook. Just a thought . . . .
Kitchen Engine in the Flour Mill. The good thing is, it's easy enough to make, and it's fun.14
This recipe for Crispy Skinned Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils is hearty and flavorful. The Berbere spice mix is rubbed all over the chicken thighs, and pan-seared in a skillet and placed in a hot oven to finish. The skin becomes crackly and crispy with flavor, while the meat remains tender and moist. I often make this with whole roasted chickens as well, and both are so tasty. Over a bed of Ethiopian spiced lentils, it's filling, healthy, and deeply satisfying.
Toast the seeds for a few minutes to bring out their flavor.Use a mortar and pestle, or even a coffee grinder, to grind the seeds. Once the Berbere spice mix is done, start on the lentils. When the lentils are simmering, rub chicken thighs on all sides with kosher salt, pepper and Berbere Spice Mix.
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Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils
Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils and a recipe for Berbere Spice mix
Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home Blog
Recipe type: Main
- 1 cup French Green, Indigo or Beluga Caviar lentils (do not use a split lentil)
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups diced onions
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced tomato
- 2-3 tablespoons Berbere Spice Mix (see below)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- 6 chicken thighs (skin-on)
- 2-3 tablespoons Berbere Spice Mix
- olive oil
- Kosher Salt
- Berbere Spice Mix
- 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, ground plus more for extra spicy
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds or powdered cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds or powdered coriander
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (shelled) or powdered cardamom
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds or powdered fenugreek
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns or freshly ground peppercorn
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- In a heavy bottom pot, or dutch oven, saute diced onion, carrots, garlic and ginger in 2 tablespoons olive oil, until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add 2-3 tablespoons Berbere Spice mix and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup lentils, 1 cup diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 cups water, bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low and let cook until al dente, about 30 minutes.
- Pat Dry Chicken
- Salt all sides of chicken with salt and pepper
- Generously rub each piece with some Berbere Spice Mix.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy bottom skillet, on medium high heat, place chicken skin side down and sear until it is crispy and golden, about 6- 8 minutes. Turn over, and turn heat down to medium, searing for 2-3 minutes. Place in a 400 F oven until internal temperature reaches 165F (10-15 minutes)
- Serve over a bed of the Ethiopian lentils, and garnish with fresh Italian parsley.
- Berbere Spice Mix:
- If using whole seeds, lightly toast them on the stove top in a skillet for 2-3 minutes.
- Grind them using a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Remember to crush or grind the chili flakes.