Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dereq (Dry) Tibsi

As you know, tibsi is just sauteed/pan fried X (insert your protein of choice here) .... and dereq means dry. So dereq tibsi is just tibsi without any sauce. 

I had learned that the perfect dereq tibsi requires you to -- 1) use a really tender cut of meat (the tenderloin cut) and 2) make sure your pan is extra-hot before cooking the ingredients. However, I recently experimented with the less expensive sirloin cut and had tasty results. Good news if you are cooking on a budget.

If you are familiar with this dish, or any tibsi dish for that matter, you know that there are nearly as many recipes as there are cooks. Some people like more onions (or less), or they like to add tomatoes, or they toss in whole garlic lightly smashed as opposed to mincing it, or they use tesmi (spiced butter) instead of oil, etc. So feel free to deviate from the recipe.

Dereq tibsi really shines when eaten with awaze (a spicy paste made with berbere) as a dipping sauce/condiment. Leave it out and it's like fries without ketchup, pancakes without syrup, bagels without cream cheese -- edible but why? I'll post the recipe for awaze in the next post.

Ah, one more thing. Dereq tibsi is ideal for beef and lamb. As you can imagine, chicken  wouldn't be too tasty dry. Shrimp might work though. I'm allergic -- so why don't you try it out and let me know?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spicy Timtimo (Red Split Lentils)

As promised, here is another recipe for a great vegan dish - spicy timtimo made with red split lentils. Spicy timtimo is very easy to make and gets its heat from a generous portion of berbere. (See the “about the food” page for info about how to find it).  And like anything with lots of spices, this timtimo will taste even better a day or two after its cooked.

These legume dishes used to really intimidate me because I would be worried about either adding too little or too much water.  But of course when I would ask my mom how much water to add, she would respond "just enough so that its cooked". This is my mom.  She has always tried to rid me of my reliance on precise recipes. 

At the ripe age of 28 (I'm talking last month people), I finally paid attention to how she made timtimo and realized how obvious it was. Once you add the lentils, you add what looks to be a bit more than twice their amount in water and let them cook. As the water cooks down, taste the lentils and if they are still a bit hard, keeping adding small amounts of water. And you just repeat those steps until the lentils are soft and the water is cooked off.

I still did want to present a more precise recipe, for any type A folks out there (don't worry, I'm still in the club). The only difference is that you add all the water at once, which is about 3 to 4 times as much as the amount of dry lentils. Enjoy!

(Oh and the video is coming! I'm sorry for the delay!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bored of Hummus? Presenting Mild Timtimo w/Yellow Split Peas

I'll try not to say this for each dish, but this one of my favorite recipes :)

This is a recipe for mild timtimo with yellow split peas. It's a really simple vegan dish that can be served with injera, naan, as a dip (if you are bored of hummus), or a spread in a sandwich. By the way, I shot this pic of the timtimo when it was piping hot right off the stove. But once it cools, it thickens up quite a bit.

If you haven't noticed, Eritrean food is a vegan or vegetarian’s dream. There are tons of fasting periods in Eritrea where observers aren’t supposed to eat any animal products. So as a result, the cuisine is rich with vegan options. I'll be presenting additional vegan dishes in the future, so stay tuned.

(And I'm sorry for not posting a video! But there is a picture of the finished product at least!) 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Looking for the Perfect Valentine's Day Gift?

What's better than cooking a meal for your special someone? 

Get the recipes from my blog, march in the kitchen, whip up some Eritrean food, and your guest will be impressed. Definitely more effort than making restaurant reservations :)

You can thank me later!

Tsada (White) Tibsi w/Lamb

Tsada (White) Tibsi w Lamb from Bsrat M. on Vimeo.

I know I'm going to get it again for this one :) 

Tsada (white) tibsi is made like keyih (red) tibsi but without the spicy awaze (or berbere if you used that instead). Traditionally, tibsi is drier than the way that I present it here. If you prefer it the traditional way, you can do the following - add 1 tomato (not the 3 that I used) before the meat is almost cooked, so it doesn't break down as much. Also, don't cover the pan. But if you like a saucier version, stick to the recipe as its posted. 

But I will present the drier version one day, just to make the purists out there happy!

I also veered from tradition by adding bell peppers and rosemary. These are optional  - don't feel that you need to use them.

Lastly, as with any tibsi, you can choose whatever protein or vegetable you like - shrimp, chicken, tofu, portabella mushrooms, etc. I'm going to experiment with some of these ingredients in the future so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Alicha (Sauteed Mixed Vegetables w/Turmeric)

Alicha (Sauteed Mixed Vegetables) from Bsrat M. on Vimeo.

Ah, lovely, golden alicha. This is one of my favorite dishes. And I get really annoyed in some restaurants when it’s presented as a bland afterthought to the meat dishes – a haphazard array of tired carrots and pale potatoes, overwhelmed by even weaker-looking cabbage. When made properly, alicha should be really flavorful and bright, and not hidden in the nether regions of your plate.

Alicha is just a combination of sautéed vegetables flavored with turmeric (which gives it its golden color). A mixture of cabbage, carrots, and potatoes is most common, but I’ve also seen string beans, bell peppers, and zucchini used. This is really just a method, not a recipe, so feel free to use any vegetables you like. 

One thing about making alicha that always confused me was the order in which I was supposed to add each different vegetable.  You can’t add them all at the same time, as some cook faster than others. I’ve learned that string beans take the longest, then cabbage, then carrots, then potatoes. So you should add them in that order, once the last ingredient has started to soften. It will make sense when you watch the clip or read the recipe.

By the way, I’ve presented a really simple version, in which all the vegetables are cooked together in the same pot. In some households, the vegetables are all sautéed (or fried) separately and then mixed together.  The next time I make this, I’ll cook the green beans separately and blanche them, to keep them bright green and prevent them from falling apart, as they do in the clip.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Eat your Greens!

Hamli (Sauteed Greens) from Bsrat M. on Vimeo.

I grew up in a household where meat or chicken was never the star at the table – just a complement to the vegetable dishes that were more plentiful. And Eritrean cuisine in particular, features tons of vegetable and legume dishes.

However, as a youngster during summer trips to Eritrea, I used to have a hard time eating as a guest in people’s homes. Guests are traditionally honored with several courses of meat, meat, chicken, and more meat. And with each course that appeared, I would be hoping that someone would bring out something green.

Of course, for a traditional Eritrean host, serving meat is the highest compliment. However, I am going to make sure to serve up tons of vegetarian recipes in this blog. For the next two posts, I’ll present recipes on how to make Eritrean sautéed vegetables. This first post will present hamli, or sautéed greens, and the second will present alicha, or vegetables sautéed with turmeric.

Hamli is ridiculously easy to make. And as sautéed greens are really a universal dish, you don’t need any suggestions about how to serve it.

I’m a little picky about my greens. Some Eritreans use collard greens, but I find its flavor a bit strong. I also find spinach a bit too watery. I prefer swiss chard or kale, which holds up to cooking temperatures better than spinach, but has a more pleasant flavor than other greens. Of course, please feel free to use whatever you prefer.