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International Recipes: Ethiopian Berbere Chicken

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To celebrate the fantastic and beautiful countries that our tours are set in, we are looking for small ways to bring the tours to you at home. As part of this, we are launching a new recipe series that takes the finest dishes from our favourite countries and shows you how to replicate them in your own kitchen; giving you a ‘flavour’ of the countries that you could be visiting with one of our experience holidays.

In this recipe, we’ll be focusing on the magnificent country of Ethiopia, set in the heart of Africa. The recipe for Ethiopian berbere chicken will fill your home with the smell of the berbere spice mix, a deep and exotic aroma.

For the recipe, we’ll start with the berbere, which is a mix of spices and is typically hard to find pre-prepared in the UK; however, it is easy to make so we’d recommend making more than you need and storing it for use at a later date. For the mix, you’ll need:

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander seeds or powdered coriander
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (shelled) or powdered cardamom
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds or powdered fenugreek
1 teaspoon black peppercorns or freshly ground peppercorn
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin seeds or powdered cumin
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, ground plus more for extra spicy
3 tablespoons sweet paprika 

This sounds like a lot of ingredients but you’ll likely have most of them in your spice cabinet already. When using seeds instead of powder mix, you’ll need to toast them for a few minutes to bring out their flavour before grinding them down with the rest of the ingredients to form a beautiful reddy-brown powder.

Having finished the berbere mix, now move on to the lentils. For these, you’ll need:

1 cup French Green, Indigo or Beluga Caviar lentils (do not use a split lentil)3 cups water2 cups diced onions5 cloves garlic, minced1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced1 cup diced carrot1 cup diced tomato2-3 tablespoons Berbere Spice Mix (see above)1 teaspoon salt2 tablespoon olive oilFresh Italian parsley for garnish

Using a heavy bottom pot, sauté the diced onions, ginger, carrots, garlic and two tablespoons of olive oil for roughly 5-7 minutes. To this, add two or three tablespoons of the berbere mix and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes more. Now, add the lentils, tomatoes, salt and water, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for roughly 30 minutes more, or until al dente.

While the lentils are cooking, let’s move onto the chicken:

6 chicken thighs (skin-on)
2-3 tablespoons Berbere Spice Mix
Olive oil
Kosher Salt 

Firstly, you’ll need to pat dry the chicken to remove any oils or grease as this can hinder the next steps of the preparation process. Then, season all sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. After seasoning, rub generous amounts of berbere mix across each of the thighs so that the flavour can permeate the skin.

For cooking, we’ll use a heavy base skillet on a medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of oil to the pan and place the chicken skin side down and sear until it is crispy and golden, this should take roughly 6-8 minutes. Now turn the chicken over and continue to sear for a further 2-3 minutes, having turned the heat down to medium.

To finish the chicken, we’ll cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400F (gas mark 6, 200 celsius). This will keep the skin crisp and the meat moist. To finish, serve on the bed of lentils with garnish.

For more on Ethiopian cuisine, you can click here, or if you fancy tasting the real thing in Ethiopia? Head to our Ethiopia tours page and get in touch to find out more!

Header photo credit: Feastingathome