Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ethopian Collard Greens

After a hot morning going in and out of the little galleries in a decaying part of Culver City, it was a delight to sit and eat. We were on our way to LACMA, got caught up in slow traffic in what must be the North African enclave in LA, looked around and realized that we were surrounded by one Ethopian restaurant after another. If (or when) I go back to LA, this is one of the areas that I'd love to explore. In fact, I found what I glimpsed of the ethnic enclaves and LA's funky side to be as fascinating as the art in museums. 

We took a much-needed pit stop and since two of our party are vegetarians, the food was perfect. Served on a "place" of Injera bread, these greens and the accompanying tomato salad, yellow dal and lentils saved the day.


This dish is simple and delicious. Use spring greens in place of the collard greens if you are unable to get the real thing.

450 g / 1 lb collard greens
60 ml / 4 tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5 ml / ½ tsp grated fresh root ginger
2 green chillies, seeded and sliced
150 ml / ¼ pint / 2/3 cup vegetable stock or water
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
freshly ground black pepper

Wash the collard greens, then strip the leaves from the stalks and steam the leaves over a pan of boiling water for about 5 minutes until slightly wilted. Set aside on a plate to cool, then place in a sieve or colander and press out the excess water.
Using a large sharp knife, slice the collard greens very thinly.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onions until browned. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry with the onions for a few minutes, then add the chillies and a little of the stock or water and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the greens, red pepper and the remaining stock or water. Season with salt and pepper, mix well, then cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes.

Serves 4.

One of the recipes that I found called for the greens to be spiced with niter kebbeh and I think that's the "secret ingredient." You can make it yourself or you can be lazy (like me) and buy what is really ghee from your local Indian Market. In my case, that is Bombay Bazaar where I also bought the cardamon and good cinnamon. I had the rest of the spices in my kitchen and just added them as per the recipe. I folded the butter into the cooked greens and chowed down. It was a delicious change from my usual southern style greens with lots of pork and peppers.

Spiced Butter (Niter Kebbeh)

2 lb. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick (approximately 1" long)
1 whole clove
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large saucepan, melt the butter slowly over medium heat; do not let it brown. Then bring butter to a boil. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered and undisturbed for 45 minutes. Milk solids on the bottom of the pan should be golden brown, and the butter on top will be transparent.
Slowly pour the clear liquid into a bowl, straining through cheesecloth. It is important that no solids are left in the niter kebbeh.
Transfer the kebbeh into a jar. Cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.

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