I'm not very good at remembering anniversaries or birthdays. In fact, I hardly noticed that this past April was Kitchen Chick's 5 year anniversary. Five years! Wow. The last time I spent five years doing something it was for my undergraduate degree, and I needed that extra year because I changed majors in my four year. I've never even stayed in the same job for five years, though I think that may happen with my current one.
A lot can happen in five years. Five years ago I had never attempted making Ethiopian food. Over the past few years I've posted some of my attempts, though in truth I've never really been 100% happy with the results. I don't even cook those dishes the same way now as I wrote about them then.
But with thanks to the internet, I've been able to obtain previously-hard-to-find Ethiopian ingredients that really make a difference in the flavor. (If you don't have a local source, I've ordered from Ethiopian Spices, but there are two more sources: Habesh Foods and Brundo.) And with additional thanks to the internet, I can compare the recipes in various books against the increasing number of recipes posted online. As a result, I've been able to modify and tweak what I cook to taste more and more like what I've had at the most authentic restaurants I've eaten at around the country. I've become sufficient efficient that I can bang out three dishes and injera in about an hour fifteen. This is a big improvement from the 2.5 hour marathons of past times. In fact, I've reached the point where sometimes I like my version of a dish better than what I've had at restaurants.
And still, sometimes a new-to-me device, technique, or ingredient comes along that revolutionizes my cooking. Last summer I had the great fortune to stumble upon an Ethiopian grocery/restaurant in the Columbus Ohio area run by a very nice couple. It was a great fortune not only because I was able to buy a 40lb bag of teff, but also because the wife of the couple took me back into her kitchen and showed me how to make a certain beef dish. Wow! I wish I could say more, but I was sworn to secrecy. No kidding. Ironically, while she was swearing me to secrecy, her husband was telling Joe that he didn't understand why cooking food should be such a secret.
But along with the 40lb bag of teff and a pound of totally rockin' homemade shiro mix, they also sold me the below Heritage Grill, which she uses for making injera. She had four grills lined up so she could make large batches of injera, which she sold in their store. This grill has completely reworked my process flow for cooking Ethiopian food. Now I have a sufficiently large and evenly hot surface which cooks up nice wide injera quickly, and it frees up burners on my stove. (I set it to 350 to 400 F, depending on how fast I want to cook. After spreading the batter on the grill, cover it with the lid for a short bit while cooking to trap the heat which helps the the top set.)
I think this grill is the primary reason I've managed to cut my cooking time so much, though I've certainly improved my prep work flow as well. My stove top can now be complete devoted to my dishes, and I can get a lot more going on in parallel.
I hope you'll forgive me if I don't post more recipes. I'm still really adjusting how I make the dishes and don't feel ready to post, but there are a multitude online resources these days. Here are a few to check out:
- Brundo's Recipes
- University of Pennsylvania
- Ethiopian Recipes.net
- Ethiopian Restaurant & Food Guide
- Food Down Under Recipe Database
The Heritage Grill also rocks for French crêpes