Niter kibbeh (recipe follows) is a staple of the Ethiopian kitchen. Clarified butter slowly simmered with fenugreek, cardamom, or nigella seeds forms the base for nearly all Ethiopian stews.
adapted from a March 1995 article in The Columbian
YIELDS 7 TABLESPOONS
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter
- seeds from 7 cardamom pods
- 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
First we melted a stick of butter over low heat in a small saucepan:
Once the butter had melted completely we added the spices and let the flavors steep into the butter:
After about twenty-five minutes the milk solids from the butter had separated and browned, and sunk to the bottom of the saucepan:
The butter was allowed to cool in the pan off the heat for about fifteen minutes until the foam had receded back into the melted butter:
Being careful not to disturb the pan too much and reintroduce the milk solids, the butter was strained into a bowl:
We stopped pouring before the browned mild solids and spices had fallen into the strainer, keeping the finer solids from passing through the strainer holes:
The clarified butter that resulted was a rich yellow color from the fenugreek and was clear:
Clarified butter is used around the world, from France to India. Niter kibbeh is one of the rare versions that is flavored, and the result is a rich, deeply fragrant cooking fat useful for most any Ethiopian dish.