Walk into an Ethiopian restaurant and you’re likely to notice a distinctive aroma that’s very hard to put your finger on: a subtle combination with hints of warm sweet tropical spices, earthy vegetables, blistering hot peppers, and glistening clarified butter.
Make up a batch of nitter kibbeh, and you’ll be right there again.
This is a super simple cooking medium that imparts deep and slightly mysterious flavor to a pan of vegetables or the protein of your choice, from tempeh to a thinly pounded chicken filet to a mild white-fleshed fish; shrimp and scallops are especially happy with this. I rarely eat red meat, so you’re on your own there, but if you come up with other good candidates, let me know.
Here’s the butter melted, then with the spices ready to pour in, then after the spices have been in it for a while.
I assemble the ingredients and chop the veggies right next to the melting butter, so I can keep an eye on it. Of course, it’s never a bad idea to do all the prep beforehand, particularly if your stove is touchy and burns things easily. (Our old one, an inherited electric glass cooktop that I particularly loathed, did that. Our new one, an induction top, is HEAVEN, and you have to try pretty hard to burn something on it because of the science behind it. It’s a science oven! Ok, a science stove. )
Anyway, the nitter kibbeh will keep in a glass jar for a while. One night, we even tossed it with popcorn, and it was awesome.
Cheesecloth is definitely better than a coffee filter for straining, and I’m kind of amazed at how much I’ve been using the stuff lately. So hunt it down at the grocery store (usually hidden in the cooking aisle near the temporary aluminum foil baking dishes).
It also lifts this plate of roast veggies from a pretty dish of roast veggies to something extra special. Enjoy.