Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world, mentioned in sacred texts of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Besides its most important contribution to the culinary world — coffee — it is the home of the superfood teff and the flavorful spice mixture berbere.
Teff is an ancient grain discovered in Ethiopia thousands of years ago.The world's smallest grain, it can be cooked whole or ground into flour. Teff is considered by many the new quinoa; its health benefits include having a low glycemic index, being gluten free, high in protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Ethiopian long-distance runners, renown for their speed and endurance, consume teff as a major part of their diet. In fact, teff accounts for 10% of the diet of the average Ethiopian.
Teff is most commonly eaten as injera, a sourdough flatbread, or as a porridge. However, with the Ethiopian government having lifted the ban on its export, a crop of Ethiopian entrepreneurs have endeavored to distribute it to the world as a flour.
I recently got my hands on some teff flour for the first time thank to Canadian-based Berhan Grains who sources it directly from Africa. Read this article in blackfoodie.co to learn more about the story of this family-owned business.
The Wonderffle Stuffed Waffle Iron can cook any kind of batter that can be used in a conventional waffle maker, and I'm pleased that one made from teff flour is no exception. I used this recipe for teff pancakes from Berhan Grains website as a starting point and added more liquid to increase the flow of the batter.
Besides, teff, what gives this dish a distinctly Ethiopian flavor is none other than the piquant spice mixture berbere. This ingredient is even more difficult to find than teff. After following a recipe online to try to make a batch myself, I was strongly advised that it would fall short of the real thing and to purchase it directly from an Ethiopian market.
Thankfully, there's a fairly large Ethiopian population in my town and one of the best local restaurants is Taste of Ethiopia. I paid them a visit to pick up a plate of doro wat and ask if they sell berbere. They will on demand, but none was available at the time. Thankfully, they referred me to a nearby Pakistani grocery store that had some authentic Ethiopian berbere for sale. I happen to know the place well. Its where I buy paneer cheese.
With ingredients in hand, I was ready to begin the daunting task of creating a dish using items I had never before worked with. Berbere is as hot as it is tasty. I used a spice blend made with berbere shared by famed chef and restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson to cut down the heat while keeping the richness of the flavor in tact.
The next time I make Ethiopian-inspired chicken stuffed waffles, I'll probably use Chef Samuelsson's mix as a rub and either roast or grill the chicken rather than fry it. My frying skills are subpar and even though I tried two different techniques, I had difficulty keeping the breading on the chicken. I know, I know, frying doesn't require great skill and I probably did something foolish like not account for the drop in the temperature of the oil by putting too much chicken in the skillet at a time. Nevertheless, the flavor is here is a big way. This is most definitely one of the tastiest stuffed waffles I've made to date. Plus, the batter not crisping like I wanted led to add julienned bell peppers and shredded lettuce to the stuffing which adds crunch, color, and coolness.
Anyway, check out the video and recipe below. Give it a try yourself and leave a comment with any improvements you come up with.
- 2 tbsp berbere
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp celery salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 chicken thighs, cut into 1" to 2" pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup Berhan teff flour
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- peanut oil for frying
- 1 cup Berhan teff flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 ½ tbsp melted ghee (substitute with butter or cooking oil)
To make the spice blend, mix all ingredients in a small bowl. It will keep in a sealed container in a dark place for 6 months.
Marinate the chicken by combining the buttermilk, coconut milk, and 2 tbsp of spice blend in a shallow container. Roll each piece of chicken into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for four hours.
For the chicken batter, combine the teff flour and buttermilk in a large mixing bowl. Coat the pieces of chicken with the batter.
Heat the peanut oil to 350 °F. Fry the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F.
To cook the stuffed waffle, follow the directions in the product instruction manual.