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Monday, February 24, 2014

Ethiopian Berbere Chicken and Lentil Stew (Vegan Option)


Is it Monday again already?  Why do weekends go by so quickly?  After some relief from the cold temps, I hear they're coming back this week.  Grr!

Well here is a hearty recipe to warm you up.  We enjoyed it for dinner Saturday night.  It is kind of a mash up of African-inspired dishes.  I found the Berbere spice blend I got in Kensington Market a few months ago and realized I hadn't yet opened it.  I started to think about what to make with it.  Traditionally its used to season chicken or meat, or to spice up a pulse stew made from lentils or split peas.  I kinda did both here.  But - maybe because it's winter - was looking for something a bit richer, so I threw in some peanut butter like I do when I make Nigerian Groundnut Stew.  Cabbage, peppers and sweet potato made their way in too because that's what I had in the fridge.  Best of all, I created a dish that is both healthy and delicious, containing meat for my carnivorous better half, but can be easily transformed into a vegan dish for those who eat a plant-based diet.

Had I had more time or planned further ahead, I would have got some injera bread (there are actually quite a few Ethiopian restaurants and markets in our neighbourhood, or gotten some teff flour and tried to make something, but since I didn't have any of that on hand, I stuffed this stew into whole grain wraps.  It would also be amazing over brown rice, millet or quinoa.

Ethiopian Berbere Chicken and Lentil Stew (Vegan Option)

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp Berbere spice blend
1 tsp salt
1 lb ground chicken or turkey*
1 can green lentils (or 1.5 cups cooked)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
8 cups finely shredded green and/or purple cabbage
1 grated carrot
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato (or squash)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup hot water
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional)

Saute chicken and lentils with onion, garlic, ginger and spices in oil for 2-3 minutes in large skillet or pot over medium heat.  Add vinegar and veggies and turn heat down to medium low.  Simmer until meat is done, cabbage has cooked down and peppers and carrot have softened.  Whisk together peanut butter and hot water, add to pot, along with mashed sweet potato, and simmer another 5-10 minutes.  Add additional water, if needed.  Season to taste.  Serves 4.  Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze.

*Omit meat for vegan and double the amount of lentils.