The following two recipes are reprinted from with permission of the authors, the Moosewood Collective, from Sundays at Moosewood Copyright 1990 Moosewood, Inc., Simon and Schuster, Fireside, publishers, New York. These two recipes are in the chapter by Fouad Makki, North African and the North African Highlands.
This is a spice-infused variation of ghee which is a staple of Ethiopian cuisine. I have included it here because it is a great way to easily add flavor to any dish, especially vegetables. There are many versions, but this is one that I have made and enjoyed.
1 lb. butter, unsalted
¼ cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ tsp. turmeric
4 cardamom seeds, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves, whole
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp. fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried)
In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter on medium-low heat and bring it to bubbling. When the top is covered with foam, add the other ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer. Gently simmer, uncovered, on low heat. After about 45 to 60 minutes, when the surface becomes transparent and the milk solids are on the bottom, pour the liquid through a cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container. Discard the spices and solids.
Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, Niter Kebbeh will keep for up to 2 months.
If you are lucky enough to live in a community with a large East African population, this blend can be purchased at numerous ethnic grocery stores, and even some of the conventional ones. It is good on meats, roasted vegetables (especially sweet potatoes), and transcendent tossed with oven-roasted pecans. The flavor is somewhere between chili powder and curry powder.
2 tsp. cumin seeds
4 whole cloves
¾ tsp. cardamom seeds
½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
¼ tsp. whole allspice
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
½ tsp. coriander seeds
8 To 10 small dried red chiles
1 tsp. dried ginger
¼ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
2½ Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
In a small frying pan, on medium-low heat, toast the cumin, whole cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, allspice, fenugreek, and coriander for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.
Discard the stems from the chiles. In a spice grinder or with a morter and pestle, finely grind together the toasted spices and the chiles. Mix in the remaining ingredients.
Store Berbere refrigerated or in a cool, dry place in a well-sealed jar or a tightly closed plastic bag.
Niloofar Haeri's Puree of Zucchini
This is a recipe for pureed zucchini that eats like a soup (though it’s a step beyond the pureed Summer Soups template from my book) that has become one of my Mom’s favorites; she usually eats half and freezes half for later. It can easily be doubled, so it’s a great way to deal with an abundant harvest of zucchini. I only peel the zucchini if the skin has gotten really tough. From World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1⅓ cups onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ tsp. turmeric
4 medium zucchini (about 2½ lbs), peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
⅛ tsp. cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ tsp. tomato paste
Put the olive oil in a medium frying pan, wide saute pan, or pressure cooker and set over
medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion and garlic. Stir and saute for 10 to 12 minutes, until the onion is soft. You may need to reduce the heat to prevent browning. Add the turmeric and stir once. Remove a third of the onion-garlic mixture and set aside.
Add the zucchini and salt to the pan and return the heat to medium-high. Stir and cook
for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the zucchini begins to release a little liquid. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is soft. If using a pressure cooker, cook at high pressure for 1 minute, and allow the pressure to come down naturally. Uncover, add the cumin, cayenne, black pepper to taste, and tomato paste.
Mash the zucchini with a potato masher (or puree with an immersion blender) right in the pan, allowing it to cook gently as you do so. Keep cooking and mashing for a minute or two, or until you have a coarse, well-mixed puree. Add the reserved onions and mix well. Serve
hot, warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Serves 4 to 6
This is a basic curry powder from Madhur Jaffrey. Make sure to lightly roast the spices; they can become bitter if over-cooked. They need to roast just until they emit a light aroma and have barely turned a shade darker.
Makes about 5 to 6 tablespoons
2 Tbs. whole coriander seeds
1Tbsp. whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. whole peppercorns
1½ tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
4 to 5 whole cloves
3 hot dried red chilies, crumbled
1 tsp. whole fenugreek seeds
1 tsp. ground turmeric
Set a small, cast iron frying pan over medium heat. When it is hot, put in the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves and chilies. Stir around until the spices emit a light, roasted aroma. The spices will just begin to turn color. Add the fenugreek seeds and turmeric and stir for 10 seconds. Empty the spices out onto a clean plate to cool. When cooled, grind as finely as possible using a spice grinder or food processor. Store in a clean jar away from heat and sunlight.
From How To Eat Supper by Lynn Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift: This “is a trio of spices which easily crosses borders, from North Africa to the Middle East, to India, to Mexico. Make up this foundation blend, then alter where needed as you take it from cuisine to cuisine. For instance, Morocco might demand the addition of sweet paprika, while an Indian recipe could call for more coriander and black pepper and Mexico more cumin and the addition of chiles.
Rub or sprinkle the blend over vegetables and meats when roasting, sauté it into stews and soups, and use it as a finishing spice on salads.”
¼ cup ground cumin
½ cup ground coriander
⅛ cup (2 tablespoons) fresh-ground black pepper
Blend the spices together in a jar and seal. Store them away from heat and light. Makes about 3/4 cup. Keeps 3 to 4 months in a dark cool cupboard.