Cooking with friends is a monthly series in which my dearest friends are inviting me into their kitchens and teaching me their favorite recipes. These bonding experiences deepen our friendships, expand my palate, and enhance my culinary skills by sharing a timeless practice: cooking.
It’s Cooking with friends time again, folks! I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve been making some changes in my life lately, which have kept me busy both in and out of the kitchen. I recently started taking photography classes, and it feels oddly satisfying to go to school and do homework again. I’m also dedicating more time to recipe development and photography. Writing, on the other hand, has been really tough. I found myself on a dry spell lately, but I’m hoping that my upcoming Chilean journey and backpacking trip through Patagonia will take care of that. With all these new things happening in my life, I really value the timeless tradition of communal cooking. Friends, food and drinks always make me realize how lucky I am. Speaking of amazing friends, you probably remember Ame and Hanna from one of my older blog posts. They are back with yet another amazing Ethiopian staple: Beef Tibs.
Ame and Hanna are a well-respected and highly regarded couple in the Ethiopian community, and they were some of my first friends to feature on the blog with their delicious Ethiopian Lentils also known as Misir Wot. The post was a total success and is still one of the most visited blog posts in the life of gourmetcubicle to date. The best part was that people from the Ethiopian community reached out to me via email, commending the recipe and giving me props for the way I portrayed Ethiopian cuisine and traditions in the few lines I wrote.
There was one funny incident during the last blog post with Ame and Hanna. Whenever I write a Cooking with friends post, I don’t let my friends see the story until it goes live. It allows me to be honest about how I feel about their culture, our friendship and, of course, the food we are cooking. Putting those thoughts on paper is my way of saying thank you for the time and effort they spend on sharing their knowledge with me. Not everyone reacts the same way to what I write though. Guy thought my portrayal of him as a stubborn perfectionist was hilarious, while Maria felt a tug at her heartstrings because of my comments on our friendship.
With Ame, though, it was a completely different experience. As soon as the blog post went live, Ame told me that the title should be changed. The TITLE? The recipe was initially named Ame’s Ethiopian Lentils (Misir Wot), which was completely wrong, because the recipe belonged to Hanna. He felt like it would be unfair to take credit for his wife’s recipe. I immediately changed it to Ame and Hanna’s Ethiopian Lentils, even though a few people had already shared the recipe on social media. “I should’ve known better than that!” I thought to myself. I’m familiar with Ame’s perfectionist personality. As a matter of fact, I’m in touch with that emotion - I’m an engineer, too.
Although both Hanna and Ame are great cooks, Hanna has that special talent of making everything related to cooking look easy. She’s always calm and in control of the situation. While she was cooking, measuring, and introducing me to the secrets of Ethiopian cuisine, Hanna was also talking to Ame and looking after Nathan, the youngest of their 3 little munchkins. She told me about the importance of berbere - a medley of chili, garlic, ginger, ajwain and a few other spices, and how this spice defines their cuisine.
Misir wot (Ethiopian lentils), Doro wot (Ethiopian chicken stew), Gomen (Ethiopian collard greens) and Beef Tibs were all served on a perfectly plated injera bread. Although all the dishes prepared by Hanna and Ame were excellent, I found the beef tibs to be my personal favorite. Initially Ame and Hanna taught me a recipe that wasn’t using berbere. The flavors were good and balanced, but the addition of berbere made the gravy more flavorful and richer. It’s my preferred way of eating beef tibs because even after I run out of meat, I can dip the injera in the gravy. Enjoy!
HANNA'S ETHIOPIAN BEEF TIBS
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (or Ethiopian niter kibbeh)
- 1½ cups medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1/2 medium-sized onion)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1½ Tbsp berbere
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 lb beef (eye of round roast), cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 tsp iodine salt
- 2 jalapeños, deseeded and sliced
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- In a nonstick skillet heat oil over high heat. When the oil easily slides across the pan, add the onions and garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes until the onions become translucent. Stir often so the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle with berbere and 2 tablespoons of water reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often.
- Add beef and mix well until the meat cubes are well coated with gravy. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the meat is well cooked.If the gravy is too thick you can add another tablespoon of water.
- Add salt, jalapenos, and rosemary. Give it a last stir and let it cook for 3 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. If the gravy isn't spicy enough you can add more berbere.
- Serve beef tibs on injera bread with a side of Misir Wot (Ethiopian lentils) and gomen (Ethiopian collard greens – coming soon).
- The heat level of the dish is dependent on the amount of berbere you add. For a milder version reduce the amount to 1 tablespoon. For extra spicy double the amount of berbere and don't completely remove the seeds from the jalapeños.