When I was only a teenager I started collecting my favourite recipes in a little book. I wrote down any exciting new discoveries and all the old family favourties. But then a few years ago, my car was broken into and my suitcase stolen – the worst thing was that it had my recipe book in it!
It still makes me sad to think that I will never recover those recipes again: I will never taste that Indonesian dish of poached mackerel in coconut milk – a recipe from friend from long ago and far away. I will never make that amazing chicken salad again – a treasured recipe I managed to coax out of a colleague after much begging.
At the same time, had I not lost my recipe book I would have never received one of the most special birthday presents ever: my parents made a book with a collection of my mother’s Ethiopian recipes. Each dish in this book my mother cooked especially, so that my father could watch, write down the instructions and then take photographs.
Below my mother’s recipe for Ethiopian Lamb stew, documented by my father, detailed a little more by my sister and then cooked by me and described through my eyes.
1 – 1 1/2 kg Lamb (for example leg of lamb)
2 cloves of garlic
2 cm piece of ginger (about same amount as garlic)
125ml olive oil
2 tbsp berbere
1 can (400g) tomato (optional, see tips)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
- Chop the onion very finely (in a food processor).
- Bring water (about 750ml) to the boil.
- Add the onion to a large pot and cook. Cover the onion with a lid and stir regularly ensuring that the onion does not burn.
- Only when necessary add a little water to stop the onion from burning.
- When the onion is soft and translucent add the oil (after about 10-15 minutes).
- Cook 10 minutes until golden. (Optional – see tips: add 1 tbsp tomato puree)
- Add the berbere and cook on the lowest heat for about 30 minutes stirring once in a while. Only when the onions begin to stick, add a few drops of water.
- Add the canned tomato.
- Cut the meat into small bite size pieces.
- Add the lam to the onion.
- Press garlic and ginger through a garlic press into the pot.
- Cook the meat, stirring regularly until the meat is just cooked. They say the sauce is done when oil rises to surface. (Depending on the meat this takes about 10 -30 minutes.) When the sauce thickens (after about 10 minutes) add about 200ml-500ml boiling water. You are looking for a thick and glossy stew.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Tips & Variations
Instead of using the can of tomatoes you can add 1 tbsp of tomato puree before adding the berbere.