A wat or wot (what?) is an Ethiopian stew. I first read about Ethiopian cuisine on The Taste Space and I knew I had to try it out for myself. It is spicy, which I love as you might have guessed and is great for vegetarian or vegan food lovers. The flavour comes mainly from an Ethiopian spice mix called Berbere. Berbere has as many different variations as I have shoes but the one I have chosen to make includes: red chilli flakes, turmeric, paprika, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice & clove.
I decided to make it with sweet potatoes and yellow lentils (or split peas) because the sweet potatoes are at their peak here at the moment which means delicious and cheap. You could also use pumpkin and chickpeas or any other vegetables you need to use up. Just add a legume to the pot to make it authentic and nutritionally balanced.
The traditional accompaniment to any Ethiopian meal are Injera flatbreads. Injera are slightly spongy crepe or pancake-like flatbreads made with a yeasted dough batter made from Teff flour. Teff is an ancient grain believed to have been cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea since 4000 BC.
I have a brilliant flour supplier in Alhaurin, Andres from El Amasadero who can get hold of these unusual flours. He also holds bread making workshops which I am threatening to attend one day. Fortunately you don’t have to make these with Teff flour you can use spelt or normal flour instead. It’s actually fun to do. Or you could just buy some Indian or Middle Eastern flatbreads if you’re short of time (or patience).
Ethiopian Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe
Serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from The Taste Space
For the Berbere spice mix:
Makes 1 small jar. You only need 1 Tbsp for this recipe
- 4 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 Tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
Grind the fenugreek seeds, red chilli flakes & sea salt in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder until you have a powder then mix with the rest of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a dry place.
Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe
- 2 sweet potatoes (about 600g), scrubbed and cut into 1-2 cm chunks
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp minced ginger
- 1 Tbsp Berbere spice mix (see above)
- 1 cup dried yellow lentils (or split peas)
- 1 litre veg stock
- salt & black pepper
- 1/4 cabbage (250 g), shredded
- 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- fresh coriander to serve
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat and cook the onions, with a pinch of salt, for about 4 minutes until translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two more. If it gets dry add a little splash of stock. Add the 1 tbsp Berbere spice mix, cabbage, tomato and season with salt & black pepper.
Add the lentils, sweet potatoes and veg stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and the lentils are cooked. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes more with the lid off. Add the fresh coriander just before serving and check seasoning.
Injera Flatbread Recipe
Serves 3-4, vegan. Needs an hour rising time
- 110 g wholemeal, spelt or teff flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 15 g fresh)
- 155 ml warm (not hot) water
Mix everything together in a large bowl to form a batter. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or longer until well risen.
When ready to cook, stir the batter then tip into a blender with about 110 ml (1/2 cup) water and blend. The batter will be quite thin.
Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium high heat without any oil and pour about 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan, swirl or spread it about with a spatula until it covers the base of the pan evenly like a crepe/pancake. Cook until little bubbles or cracks appear all over the top. You do not need to turn it over to cook the other side. Keep warm on a plate covered with a tea towel while you cook the rest.
Things That Made Me Smile Today…..
Rufus posing in the autumn sun.