Saturday, January 28, 2012

Making Ethiopian Stew with Ann N. (Sphonny)

Ethiopian Stew
One of my most unique and fun food experiences of the 2011 was cooking in the kitchen with Ann N.(also known as Sphonny).  I was the sous chef and interviewed her as she cooked.

Why do you make Ethiopian Stew, have you ever been there?
No, but Barry and I went to an Ethiopian restaurant in San Francisco a long time ago and we had something very similar there.
Where did you get the recipe?
A woman in one of the Supervisor Effectiveness classes I taught brought it in.
Was she Ethiopian?
No. (laugh)
What exactly is Ethiopian Stew?
It's onions, chicken, whole eggs and a special blend of spices.
Whole eggs?
Yes, lots of them. You'll see.
And it is spicy. There are pancakes to go with it, to offset the heat.
How spicy?
You'll see.

So, here's the story of How Ann and I made Ethiopian Stew:
Lots of Onions
Ann N. (Sphonny):  First we need lots of onions.  I don't think onions in Ethiopia are this big, so we will use only 8.

B (Me):  I think to myself.  Boy, I am glad she is willing to chop all of those onions.  I might cry.  I volunteer to do the eggs.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Voila!  The onions.

B (Me):  Voila! The eggs.  (Is this a duel?)

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Now, we need to cut up the chicken.  I'll do the breasts.  You bone the thighs.
B (Me):  Harrumph.  Yes, Chef.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Now poke all the pieces with a fork, so they can absorb the sauce.  And do the eggs, too.
B (Me):  Yes, Chef!

B note to readers:  We are following an actual recipe, in case anyone wonders.  Doro Wot is the name of what we are making.  It is the national dish of Ethiopia.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Now we move to the stove top.  Melt the butter.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Get the tomato paste and water ready.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Add the onions to the melted butter.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Add the special spices.  Berbere, pronounced "bari baray"
B (Me):  ?????
Ann N. (Sphonny):   I made it myself!  A fresh batch this year!  It's cumin, coriander, ginger, cardamon, fenugreek seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, onion powder, allspice, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, black pepper. 
Ann N. (Sphonny):  Add the chicken.
B (Me):  I see you have a bigger pot now. 
Ann N. (Sphonny):  Yes, it is hard to judge.  You may have to size up midway.  Be flexible.  Add the eggs.
That's a lot of eggs!
Ann N. (Sphonny):  On to making the pancakes. (called Injera as shown in the recipe below.)

Ann N. (Sphonny): Now I need to do some sophisticated measuring of the flour.
Ann N. (Sphonny): I know how much I used before so I know approximately how much is left in each bag.  No need for cups. First the self- rising flour.
B (Me):  I raise my eyebrows, but I know she is an engineer.

Ann N. (Sphonny):    Then the whole wheat flour.
Ann N. (Sphonny):  And baking powder. 

Ann N. (Sphonny):  To the flours and baking powder...

Ann N. (Sphonny):   we add carbonated seltzer water.
Ann N. (Sphonny):  Add more seltzer if you need it.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Then, get ready to dip and spread.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Put the batter in a hot skillet and let the batter spread out, by rolling the pan around, to make a thin pancake.

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Flip over and finish cooking each pancake.

Ann N. (Sphonny): Place them under a towel on a plate to keep them warm.

Ann N. (Sphonny): Stew is ready to serve!

 Ann N. (Sphonny):  One egg or two?
B (Me):  Two.

Fellow guest, John S. :  Holy Mother of xyz!  That soup is hot!

Ann N. (Sphonny):  Eat your pancake to cool off your mouth!

The End.

Thanks to Ann for inviting me into her kitchen.  It was lots of fun cooking together.

If anyone would like the recipes shown above, just send me an email at


1 comment:

  1. Haha! Love the guest comments!

    Our daughter is currently cooking her way through the countries and we briefly considered this recipe, but since she was the chef and hates eggs... well, we settled instead on

    Ethiopian Honey Bread and

    So good!