Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Ethiopian-Inspired Split Pea Stew (with Cheese Topping)

I enjoy experimenting with cuisines that use intense and complex blends of spices.  It has taken me a loooong time to adjust my palate to be able to spice such recipes at home (and I still have far to go before I really grasp the subtleties of such spice medleys).  It always seems near impossible for me to replicate the amazing deliciousness that is presented from the kitchens of my favourite Indian, Nepalese, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern restaurants.  However, the following split pea stew recipe, inspired by Ethiopian flavours, is one of the few exceptions to this rule and I proudly serve it to my family.
Look at all of the fibre- and protein-packed goodness in that bowl. Yum!

Please don't mistake me by thinking that this stew is in authentically Ethiopian!  It has been heavily adapted for the Western kitchen.  The original recipe was for a westernized mesir wat (which is traditionally made from lentils).  I also serve this stew with a cheese topping that was supposed to mimic Ethiopian 'cottage' cheese (ayib).  This topping was recommended in the original recipe (see source below recipe title), but my cheese topping version was thrown together with what I had in the house when I first made it >.<  It is completely nontraditional and creamier in consistency than I imagine ayib would be.  However, it is absolutely delicious - tangy, salty, and cool - and it has become the unalterable twin to this recipe.  I love that I am privileged enough to be exposed to different cuisines from around the world.  I greatly respect the years that have gone into developing beloved traditional dishes.  It is great inspiration for my own kitchen, and I hope that I treat these flavours with the respect that they deserve :)

Creating a new (delicious and cheesy) tradition.

Ethiopian-Inspired Split Pea Stew (with Cheese Topping)
Adapted from A Spicy Perspective blog.

 Makes 6-8 small bowls

  • 3 tbsp oil (my preference is 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of canola oil)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 6 cups water or stock of choice
Cheese Topping
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (any M.F. content will work, I used 3%)
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepot over medium heat.  Add onions.  Cook until onions are soft and starting to brown (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  2. Add garlic to pan and cook for another two minutes.  Stir in spices, salt and tomato paste, and cook for another minute.
  3. Add split peas and water. Cover pot and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low, keep covered, and simmer for 40-50 minutes.
  4. Remove lid and check taste of stew - peas should be tender  This is a good time to add any additional spices to taste, however, keep in mind that the stew will reduce further so the flavour will be somewhat intensified in the end result.
  5. Simmer, uncovered, until the stew reaches a thick porridge consistency.  Keep in covered pot until ready to serve.
  6. Make cheese topping by combining feta and yogurt in a small bowl. Spoon stew into bowls, top with cheese, and serve!
I hope you enjoy :)

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