SLOW COOKED SPICY CHICKEN WITH HARD-BOILED EGGS
Probably the most famous / popular dish at Ethiopian restaurants. (I think “spicy” is a misnomer here — I dropped twice the chilli powder in by mistake and it really wasn’t… plus the spice level is totally controlled by how much cayenne one uses.)
I’ve always found it interesting that this has boiled eggs, as does chicken biryani in India, because it makes the meat go further, but the eggs become a favorite element rather than an economy, because they taste so good in the sauce!
I remarked when I made the Alicha / Lamb Stew earlier that he didn’t start with the traditional method of first sweating the onions down without any fat: here he does, but also offers the faster alternative of sauteeing them in a mix of oil and niter kebbeh.
The rest is straightforward, but broken down into stages. First, the spice paste is cooked down with the onions. Second, the chicken is added and cooked till just done, then removed. Third, the sauce is cooked much longer for all the flavors to meld. Finally, the finishing spice mix is added, the chicken goes back in to reheat, and the boiled eggs are added.
I couldn’t understand why the chicken would be cooked with a sauce that wasn’t considered finished in terms of the spices being fully cooked, so I inverted those steps – I cooked the sauce for a while till the fat separated and the spices were cooked, then added the chicken and cooked till it was done, then added the finishing spices and the boiled eggs.
If one purchases the berbere, this is a very simple dish. (I have all the components, so I mixed it up myself, though I was tempted to just buy it the last time I was at Whole Foods.)
I appreciated the tip to make the paste and let it sit for a while – something in the blend definitely needs time to mellow (my guess is it’s the ajwain and/or the nigella).
The finishing spice mix does make a difference (as with garam masala at the end of an Indian dish) – the cinnamon and cardamom especially bring a sweetness that’s missing until then (long or black pepper is lovely, and cloves would taste like something missing, even though I don’t love them standalone).
Now if I can just figure out what I’m doing wrong with my crepes (never any trouble with dosa, so I know its the proportion of millets in my batter… pretty sure I need to dial that back a lot).
If you make this, double the sauce and the eggs (I mean… one could probably skip the chicken and just make this a delicious egg curry).