Ethiopian Sunshine Stew
This warming and stimulating stew is one of my favorite winter meals because it taste like a trip to a sunny climate and keeps the cold at bay. In this recipe the spices are first sautéed in ghee to trap their volatile oils, then the chickpeas are cooked from scratch together with these spices to infuse them with rich, complex flavors. Long, slow cooking sweetens the cabbage and carrots and makes the practically malt in your mouth.
For a hearty main dish, serve the stew over millet or Bhutanese red rice.
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup ghee or 1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
10 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, sorted and soaked for 6 to 8 hours
7 cups coarsley chopped cabbage
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
1 tablespoon sea salt
Toast the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, and allspice in a small dry skillet for about 1 minute, stirring frequently, until fragrant, Transfer to a spice grinder or seed mill, add the ginger, cardamom, turmeric, and cloves and grind until powdery.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
Put the ghee in a large soup pot over medium heat. Once it melts, add the chile flakes and found spices and sauté for about 1 minute, until the chile flakes take on a brighter hue. Stir in the water and chickpeas. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the chickpeas begin to soften.
Add the cabbage and carrots and simmer for about 30 more minutes, until the cabbage is transparent and practically melts into the broth.
Stir in the salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.
For a vegan version, substitute ¼ cup extra-virgin olive or sunflower oil for the ghee.
Onions and garlic make a lovely addition; simply add chopped onions and garlic when you add the carrots and cabbage.
For a greener stew with a higher iron content, substitute collard greens or kale for half the cabbage, adding either one about 15 minutes after you add the cabbage and carrots.