Sunday, October 16, 2011

VeganMoFo 16: It's Berbere, Baby!

Today's spice (mix) is: Berbere

Justin Berbere
Berbere is not actually one spice, but rather a mix of spices, used in Ethiopian food. In this sweet little town where I live, one cannot find Berbere. Once I mentioned this to my friend Harold who lives in The Big City (San Francisco) - and within a day or two he called from the grocery store offering to send me some. Right on, Harold! Thanks! Of course you can make something similar, but it is always so awesome to have the real thing. I imagine that different chefs make different Berbere mixes, so I thought I'd taste this one before cooking... just to get to know my special ingredient.
Damn! This stuff is HOT. Spicy hot. Pretty much the only "flavor" I tasted was my mouth burning up for the next five minutes. Alrighty then!

Unphased, I went ahead with cooking dinner. I made the Bakela Dinich W'et (Soy Curls and Potatoes in Spicy Gravy)
from Kittee's new zine "Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food." I tested a ton of recipes for this zine, so I was pretty sure I'd like this one. Plus, I came home from Portland with a huge bag of soy curls, and now I'm looking for more soy-curl-opportunities in my life.

The Soy Curls and potatoes were cooked up with the berbere and loads and loads of other spices into a thick gravy. I squeezed on a big squeeze of lime juice too - which really brought out the different flavors. When I was in India, I got really into squeezing fresh lime juice on everything. And actually, Ethiopian food and Indian food have many ingredients and flavors in common, so the zap of fresh lime goes well with both cuisines. Even though my berbere powder was so spicy hot, the end result in the dish was not at all overwhelming - thank goodness!

This was a great dinner. I served it up with some sauteed collards and white rice. Kittee says it is very bad to eat your Ethiopian food with rice, and that you should make injera. I have done that before, and it's very fun, but Mr. Vegan Eats & Treats does not like it... so it's not really worth the effort. Plus, white rice = 20 minutes, and it was a weeknight, after all! Please forgive me.

14 comments:

  1. Sounds yummy! I love Ethiopian food.

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  2. I am loving your spicy adventures... and berebere is a fave. It has to be great in anything Kittee.

    Looks wonderful!

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  3. Lime juice is good on everything! This looks super delicious to me.

    I saw Berbere mix here somewhere recently but can't recall where...

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  4. I love berbere! If anyone comes to Boston and wants a vegan meal out, Addis Red Sea is a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant with vegan options! Yum.

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  5. I've never made Ethiopian food, but now I really want to! I have loved it every time I have eaten it. Also, how can you not love injera, Mr. VE&T?

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  6. nooo amey! unfazed!!! :-)

    the only local place i've seen to get berebere is at the cost plus world market, where they sell it in little packets which are fine but definitely not as fresh as what i got from rainbow.

    this looks SO GOOD.

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  7. Hee, hee, love the breath of berbere fire drawing!

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  8. You're brave trying that spice mix raw! And I can't wait to try this recipe, my copy of the zine has arrived, yay!

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  9. hooray for berbere! we ordered some online back in the day when we wanted to make Ethiopian eats from kittee's first Papa Tofu. it's such a tasty spice blend - i love it the most! i hear ya on the rice, Amey - sometimes the time to make injera just isn't there. oh, Ricki from Diet Dessert 'n Dogs has a super fast cheater injera in her newest breakfast ebook "Good Morning!" (le'mme tell you - the whole ebook is awesome! we have yet to make a recipe from it we don't like.) that's really delicious and takes just minutes to create. i agree with Mandee, you are one brave lady to try the mix on its own. also - hooooray for soy curls and one delicious bowl of Ethiopian yummies!

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  10. Oh...berbere is my love! I still need to start cookin' from that zine. And I think it's hilarious that everyone at the convention seemed to have bought soy curls - I think I missed the memo on that one!

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  11. Amey, I just so love your theme this month! You are exposing me to new worlds with the spices. Love it!!!

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  12. Really healthy food

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  13. Looks so delicious! The vegan Ethiopian food police are going to come after you for the rice though. Justin Berbere...haha...you sneaky funny lady!

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  14. Love Ethiopian and there are no rules. Looks good with rice.

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