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Wow - this post is a real education, thank you so much for sharing - I have no idea about Ethiopian food and this sounds absolutely delicious. It looks scrumptious too. Thanks for sharing!
Good luck with your own, imminent, IMBB hosting,
Sam

Hmmm---this looks really great! I haven't been introduced to Ethiopian food before. I'll prepare it soon :)

Since I've loved this cuisine for so many years, I forget that it's rather new for others -- usually because Ethiopian restaurants are hard to find. When I have a moment, I will edit this post (or make a new post) to add more about Ethiopian food and eating customs, and some links to cookbooks and sources for the ingredients.

Like you I could eat Eritrean and Ethiopian every day. I can't wait to try your shiro/injera recipe because I have been searching online/books lately for a vegetarian friendly and easy recipes.

thanks for posting your recipe!

Thanks for the background and inspiration. It reminds me that I need to visit the neighborhood Ethiopian restaurant, home of "792 vegetarian combinations." (Telegraph and Ashby in Berkeley)

I haven't cooked them for many years, but I have fond memories of the Ethiopian recipes in the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. There is a spicy lentil stew and a spicy mixed vegetable stew. Both require two complicated flavor bases (a spice mixture and a spicy clarified butter), but are relatively easy after that.

Mmm, shiro! I wonder if chickpea flour (chapati flour for Indian cooking) would be a good substitute for shiro powder? it is just finely ground chickpeas, nothing else. But depending on where I look online, some say that shiro is ground split peas, and other say chickpeas; and some say the shiro powder is spiced beforehand, and some say it isn't.

Marc -- I do like Ethiopean/Eritrean meat dishes, but you know, I think I like the vegetarian dishes even more. When I go to an Ethiopean restaurant, I always have a hard time choosing which ones to get.

Kristen -- I'm guessing that shiro is one of those foods that encompasses a wide variety of recipes -- like making chili here in the U.S. I have one shiro powder recipe that combines chickpeas, navy beans, yellow split peas, and lentils. (oh my!) And I have another one that only uses chickpea flour that is very simple, though I haven't tried it yet. (Want it?)

I have seen both spiced and unspiced shiro powder for sale. It's a matter of preference -- do you want to do your own spicing or trust the vendor's choice. In the above recipe, I used pre-spiced shiro and added extra garlic and berebere powder.

Alohatiki -- good luck and have fun with cooking Eritrean/ Ethiopian food at home. I'm sorry I don't have more specific instructions. Shiro is a dish that I do off the top of my head without really measuring anything. And, I feel compelled to say, the faux injera recipe is only a mediocre substitute to the real thing, but if you can't get teff, it'll do quite well in a pinch.

Yes, I'd love the chickpea flour recipe for shiro. I have a lot of chickpea flour on hand and I'd like to use it up on things other than paratha.

I just made this recipe using chickpea flour (besan). I didn't see the note about the existence of seasoned shiro powder until after I made it and read the comments. Anyway, it's not bad, but it's not quite like we get at Arada either. Definitely missing something. Adding extra berbere makes it too cardamommy.

Lovely! About 25 years ago, when I first tried injera, the lady in the restaurant said that they made it by fermenting Aunt Jemima's pancake mix overnight. I never tried it, and teff subsequently became available, but you know, they were really close!

I make and teach fermented foods and Injera made with Teff Flour is very easy. You can buy Teff flour on line from Bob's Mill at about $2 a pound. It is very high in iron. Just mix flour, water and salt and sit in bowl for two or three days until bubbling.

Shiro…yum!!! I’m incredibly lucky living in Toronto, as there are two stores within 4 miles of my house that carry Ethiopian products, including fresh injera (white barley or brown teff – I prefer the so-soft and moist white “Mulu Injera” made by Addis Fine Food Processing). I find teff injera very sweet and “iron”-tasting, like molasses. I like to joke with a friend of mine who is from Ethiopia that injera and shiro is the food of the gods, because presumably gods could eat whatever they want, and Ethiopian food is the best food on the planet. I am a total shiro and injera addict!

Some Advice: The key to making really tasty, not-too-thick shiro is to a) use enough spiced oil, and b) don’t use too much shiro powder. This is not a low-fat food, but if you make it vegan-style, then the oil is good for you. Also, I make the shiro in much the same way as you’d make a roux (for soup or gravy), which minimizes lumps. I prefer the spiced olive oil that I make to store-bought niter kibbeh (which to me always smells a bit rancid). See simplified recipe below (you also use this oil to make Tikil Gomen, which is stewed cabbage with onions, jalapenos, and pre-cooked sliced potatoes and carrots, and this oil is also used to make stewed kale/collard greens). Berbere is dark red, and shiro powder is orange (shade varies depending on whether it’s been pre-mixed with berbere). Containers in Ethiopian shops typically aren’t labeled, so just ask the shop keepers if you have the right stuff. Buy shiro in small quantities, to ensure freshness.

Making the shiro:
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed, deep-sided saucepan on medium heat. Use lots…like at least ½ cup…shiro keeps really well, so you can store leftovers easily and nibble on them when the craving hits. Add a tablespoon or more of berbere (or much more – my mother and I like our shiro very red and spicy) and stir with a wooden spoon or whisk (use a plastic or silicone whisk if your pot is non-stick). Add several heaping tablespoons (probably close to one-third of a cup) of shiro powder, and stir for a few seconds, then add about 2 cups of water – the mixture will suddenly thicken and bubble up all at once. Keep stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbles gently – add more water as needed to thin. You can add more shiro powder or berbere at this point to adjust for flavour and texture, but the mixture does taste more “cooked” if the berbere and shiro are cooked a bit in the oil first. Shiro does thicken upon cooling and standing, and tastes better when it’s not piping hot, so let it cool somewhat before serving, and you can always add a little extra water or oil to achieve the consistency you want – more oil enhances the flavour, but too much will show up as streaks (which is not completely bad, but is a sign that you’ve used more oil than you need to). I don’t add tomatoes to my shiro, and the oil I use contains the garlic and ginger and onion flavour, so I don’t use these either – my shiro is a smooth gravy.

How to make the oil (this is for one litre or about 32 oz) – you can vary the amounts to your taste:
Place the following in a heavy-bottomed, deep saucepan:
One medium-large onion, chopped
About 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tablespoon fenugreek
8 cardamom seeds, 6 whole cloves, crushed up a bit with mortar and pestle
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 or three pieces cinnamon bark (sticks)
2 tsp turmeric (mostly for that wonderful golden colour – which stains everything)
Over everything, pour one litre of olive or canola-olive blended oil (I like a light olive oil, since the pricier, more virginal stuff is too fruity for me).

Simmer on medium heat (turn to low if bubbling too strongly) for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool. Use metal strainer to remove solids from pan, and then pass the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth. If you let the oil cool before straining, you won’t burn yourself and you can strain directly into plastic containers. Refrigerate. Pure olive oil will slightly congeal and “solidify” when refrigerated, but the olive-canola blend stays liquid.

Enjoy!

I am Ethiopian and Shiro is my all time favorite food, although it is known to many Ethiopians as the food of "poor men"

Shiro powder is not JUST powdered chickpeas nor is it any other bean or pea. Shiro powder is only made with powdered chickpeas and Shiro is a combination of Berbere spices(traditional Ethiopian spice compound) and ground chickpeas.

It is not necessarily the case that all Ethiopian vegetarian dishes are prepared without Kibe (clarified goat butter). Especially Shiro--Shiro IS traditionally made WITH clarified goat butter (kibe). It is usually during periods of fasting (TSOM) when it is removed from Shiro. Shiro is also prepared or simmered with Kemam(an herbal infusion made with cinnamon, clove and cardamom).

And yes, we Ethiopians employ oil/butter plentifully, so do not be alarmed when you find the "excessive" use of such agents in Ethiopian cuisine recipes, it is pefrectly normal. In Ethiopia oil is the key to rendering the herbs and spices used in dishes-a lot of oil equates wealth, gives the skin a beautiful glow and provides the skin with fat so that it will be supple. It also fills the stomach. The generous use of oil/butter is an Ethiopian cultural norm (our food is rich and we love it!).

Shiro can be and is usually eaten solo (with injera of course).

My family and I ususally eat Shiro for breakfast with encoolal (egg) and Timatim Fit Fit (cold, raw tomato salad with onion, jalapeno peppers and torn pieces of injera in an olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and black pepper dressing)

It can be paired with the following vegetarian dishes:

ATKILT WOT(Spiced and fried String Beans, Carrots and tomato),

GOMEN (Collard Greens),

DINICH WOT(potato, cabbage and carrot made with tumeric and spices)

KAISER(stewed beets),

ATER KIK ALICHA (yellow split peas made with lots of pureed ginger and garlic), MISIR WOT (red lentils simmered with lots of tomatos, tomato sauce, Berbere and Kemam spice), costa (sauteed spinach),

BUTICHA (A paste of Chickpeas made with red onions, jalapenos, olive oil, lemon, salt and black pepper.(looks like yellow potato salad)

SHAMBRASSA is another great pairing for Shiro. SHAMBRASSA is a stew made with ground chickpeas that have been shaped into balls, fried and then cooked in a stew of Berbere spice, onions, tomatos and other spices.

These are just a few (my favorite) veggie dishes. I hope that someone becomes inspired to learn more about Ethiopian cooking and CULTURAL EATING TRADITIONS.

ENJOY!

Judy & N. Alita: Thank you for sharing. It's hard to get good information on cooking Ethiopian food.

I got my information about shiro being made with vegetable oil from a local Ethiopian restaurant owner who told me clarified butter isn't used for vegetarian dishes. This could, of course, reflect her own cooking preference or her desire to accommodate vegans.

I just published a short "Ethiopian-inspired" Cookbook; the recipes I use in the restaurant I manage. It is my favorite food. Most "berbere" do-it-at-home mixes don't taste like berbere; they taste like cardamom and paprika (not the same thing). I was glad to see Butecha on here, it is very good as a salad. The key is the spice oil; if you take this step, your food will taste great no matter what. Also, once you have a good injera recipe, stick with it; use barley flour or teff with the white flour to make it more authentic; use a pan with no sides also, that is the key. Good luck!
www.snowlionz.com


I like your injera dish.
From my experience of baking injera, the baking soda/powder, self-rising flour or commercial yeast alters the real taste & texture of teff injera. I say, the restaurants here in the US have the look alike of the injera, but far from the real taste & texture of injera. Sorry but the truth. Just by using one of your starters you can bake good decent injera. No need to add the baking powder/soda.Trust me.See, the reason injera is always sour dough back home is, that it will take some of the bite out of that spicy rather hot stew (doro-wote- spicy, hot chicken & hard boiled egg stew ). I remember, once I invited a friend of mine (American of course) for lunch. Served this real doro-wote hot, I mean this was the real deal, real hot. Only I forgot to warn him. I remember his face turned pink & his eyes red, bulged out. O my God, what was I thinking? Well my first culture shock. That was some 27 years ago. Now I do not make doro wote that hot myself. I guess ---when you live in Rome, ---as the Romans,

Salt in injera??? NO. no baking soda either. Just yeast.
That is never done in Ethiopian cooking.

Shero as they say is not the ceek pea but a combination of different spices, cloves. cinamon, basel, garlic etc.

I am Ethiopian and Shiro is my all time favorite food, although it is known to many Ethiopians as the food of "poor men"

Shiro powder is not JUST powdered chickpeas nor is it any other bean or pea. Shiro powder is only made with powdered chickpeas and Shiro is a combination of Berbere spices(traditional Ethiopian spice compound) and ground chickpeas.

It is not necessarily the case that all Ethiopian vegetarian dishes are prepared without Kibe (clarified goat butter). Especially Shiro--Shiro IS traditionally made WITH clarified goat butter (kibe). It is usually during periods of fasting (TSOM) when it is removed from Shiro. Shiro is also prepared or simmered with Kemam(an herbal infusion made with cinnamon, clove and cardamom).

And yes, we Ethiopians employ oil/butter plentifully, so do not be alarmed when you find the "excessive" use of such agents in Ethiopian cuisine recipes, it is pefrectly normal. In Ethiopia oil is the key to rendering the herbs and spices used in dishes-a lot of oil equates wealth, gives the skin a beautiful glow and provides the skin with fat so that it will be supple. It also fills the stomach. The generous use of oil/butter is an Ethiopian cultural norm (our food is rich and we love it!).

Shiro can be and is usually eaten solo (with injera of course).

My family and I ususally eat Shiro for breakfast with encoolal (egg) and Timatim Fit Fit (cold, raw tomato salad with onion, jalapeno peppers and torn pieces of injera in an olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and black pepper dressing)

It can be paired with the following vegetarian dishes:

ATKILT WOT(Spiced and fried String Beans, Carrots and tomato),

GOMEN (Collard Greens),

DINICH WOT(potato, cabbage and carrot made with tumeric and spices)

KAISER(stewed beets),

ATER KIK ALICHA (yellow split peas made with lots of pureed ginger and garlic), MISIR WOT (red lentils simmered with lots of tomatos, tomato sauce, Berbere and Kemam spice), costa (sauteed spinach),

BUTICHA (A paste of Chickpeas made with red onions, jalapenos, olive oil, lemon, salt and black pepper.(looks like yellow potato salad)

SHAMBRASSA is another great pairing for Shiro. SHAMBRASSA is a stew made with ground chickpeas that have been shaped into balls, fried and then cooked in a stew of Berbere spice, onions, tomatos and other spices.

These are just a few (my favorite) veggie dishes. I hope that someone becomes inspired to learn more about Ethiopian cooking and CULTURAL EATING TRADITIONS.

ENJOY!
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