Today I turned to the first recipe from my Ethiopian-themed Kitchen Trotter box and discovered a lentil puree-based dish called Ye Masir Azifa. The recipe suggested serving it with an Injera, an Ethiopian pancake/flatbread, rolled into a cornet filled with some whole lentils. Azifa is usually served cold, but after a couple of hours wandering around the local Christmas markets, I wanted something warming so I decided to serve it hot and added extra liquid to make it more of a soup/stew. I also decided to forego the injera this time because we had some fougasse - a cheese and bacon-topped French springy bread almost like pizza - that we wanted to eat, but I will be trying injeras at a later date.
The recipe called for one ingredient from the box - Berberé, an Ethiopian spice blend made of cumin, cloves, chilli, cardamom, fenugreek, coriander, garlic powder, ginger, curcuma, paprika and cinnamon. It's a moderately hot spice blend, adding more flavour than heat.
Ye Masir Azifa
1tsp berberé (Ethiopian spice blend)
300g green lentils
1 clove garlic
10g fresh ginger (I used 1tsp ginger powder)
3tbsp olive oil
I can tell I'm getting more at ease with globe-cooking because I'm now quite at ease taking liberties to adapt exotic recipes to suit our tastes or the contents of my cupboards. I always think everything tastes better with onions so I started off by frying one clove of minced garlic and one chopped onion in a drizzle of olive oil.
Cook the lentils for 15-20 minutes in one and a half times their volume of boiling water.
Drain the lentils and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Put 3/4 of the lentils, the garlic and ginger, the olive oil and the salt in a blender or blitz with a stick blender until smooth. The oil should give it a creamy texture. Add the salt, pepper, ginger and berberé and stir (I love the way this unintentionally made a smily face !).
To follow the official recipe, cut an injera in half, roll into a cone and fill with 1tbsp of the reserved lentils. Serve, cold, on top of a bowl of the lentil puree. You can scatter slices of cherry tomato, chillis or shallot on top of the bowl and/or drizzle with a few drops of olive oil. I had a taste and it would be very nice as a dip with crusty bread if you don't want to make injeras.
I added 300ml water which made it look decidedly unappetising to begin with ! Bring it back to a gentle boil while stirring to create a smooth texture.
I put the reserved lentils back into the pot to add extra texture and scattered with chopped cured ham, chopped leftover roast chicken and halved cherry tomatoes.
As a cold dip or a hot soup, it's a wholesome, earthy, satisfying dish that can be adapted to suit vegetarians or meat-eaters. It would be a perfect New Year dish after all the over-indulgence of Christmas !
*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***