Sik Sik Wat (Ethiopian stewed beef)

I've always loved Ethiopian food. It's such a fun food to eat with your hands, share with friends, and explore a new culture of spices that are familiar to me, but that I have never used in this way before. In my exploration into Ethiopian food, I discovered a few key components of Ethiopian cuisine that are indispensable. They really are what create the flavors.

1. Teff: a grass native to northeast africa. Until making dinner, I had never heard of teff before. It can be ground into flour and is completely gluten free so it can be used by those with celiacs disease. It has a nutty, earthy flavor and is used to make injera. My injera came out horribly, so the recipe will not be posted. here, but it is an essential ingredient.

2. Berbere: a spice mixture usually containing chili, garlic, ginger, tumeric, fenugreek, allspice and cardamom (among other things). It's the spice powder that's usually added to... everything.

3. Niter Kibbeh: a spiced version of clarified butter, make by infusing the oil with cinnamon, ginger, onion tumeric, fenugreek, etc. Also used in practically everything.

Because of that, this is going to be a really really long post as this will have 3 recipes. You'll get a recipe for the spice, the butter and the main dish (of course, you can use normal clarified butter if you want, and you can use a packaged berbere spice, but what's the fun in that?) You really need these flavors and you can always adjust up the heat. And for a more traditional doro wat, just sub chicken for the beef.

Berbere (Ethiopian Spice)

  • 2 tsp whole cumin
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ tsp cardamom pods
  • 1 ½ tsp fenugreek
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 9 whole allspice berries
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 ½ Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Mix together all ground ingredients in a jar
  2. Toast whole spices in pan until they release their aromas
  3. Grind whole spices in spice grinder and mix together
  4. If using in a recipe that calls for paste, add 1 tbsp of red wine and 1 Tbsp of oil for every 3 Tbsp powder.
Wasn't that easy? You can keep it around in a jar for all future uses with vegetables, lentils, and meat!

Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian spiced butter)

  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 1 inch pieces of ginger, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  1. Simmer all ingredients in saucepan over low heat for 1 hour
  2. Strain out solids and pour off only the fat. Leave the solids
  3. Store in refrigerator.
That was easy too! Keep it in the refrigerator and use it for anything. Now onto the real recipe.

Sik Sik Wat (Ethiopian Stewed Beef)

  • 2 lbs stew beef
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger root
  • ¼ cup niter kibbeh, oil or clarified butter
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • ¼ - ½ cup berbere paste
  • ¾ cup water or stock
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 tsp + cayenne pepper, depending on taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 hard boiled eggs (optional)

  1. Rub stew beef with salt and lemon juice. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Melt down butter in a large pan. Add paprika to color the oil
  3. Add berbere paste and cook for 3 minutes, making sure not to burn.
  4. Add onions, garlic and ginger, cooking for 10 minutes until soft and most moisture is evaporated
  5. Add beef, water, wine and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes for until beef is tender and sauce has thickened. Add water as necessary to keep sauce a thick consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  6. Hard boil eggs if using and peel them.
  7. Add eggs to the wat and simmer for 15 more minutes before serving.