HONEY IS SWEET, AND SO IS LEARNING
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NIT'IR QIBE
(AN ETHIOPIAN PANTRY STAPLE)

















We have been making an Ethiopian lentil stew called Yemiser We’t which requires the ingredient Nit’ir Qibe. Nit’ir Qibe has become a staple in our kitchen. It is a spiced clarified butter and, along with Berbere (an Ethiopian spice blend), it gives Yemiser We’t its distinctive flavor.

Clarified butter (a.k.a. ghee) is an Ayurvedic food staple. It improves the absorption of nutrients, lubricates the connective tissues, and helps to carry the medicinal properties of herbs to the body. The infusion of spices into ghee brings a delightful and complex fragrance to dishes in which it used – for example in stir-fries and stews; in stocks and broths; and as a finishing condiment (e.g. drizzled over steamed vegetables, rice, or other grains). In addition to flavor and fragrance, the spices’ healing properties also ‘bring it’.  For example, turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; ginger reduces gastrointestinal distress; cardamom supports heart health; and cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar.

Nit’ir Qibe ‘comes together’ relatively quickly. (Here, we use a template provided by Myra Kornfeld in her book entitled, The Healthy Hedonist Holidays: A Year of Multi-Cultural, Vegetarian-Friendly Holiday Feasts.) Preheat your oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Place one pound of unsalted butter (room temperature) in an oven-proof dish. Add ¼ cup chopped red or sweet yellow onion, 3 minced cloves of garlic, a grated 1-inch piece of ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 6 crushed cardamom pods, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil. Place in oven and cook – uncovered – for 1 hour. Remove the dish from the oven, allow it to cool slightly and then pour the liquid through a strainer or double-layered cheesecloth into a glass jar. Discard the solids.

Our Nit’ir Qibe doesn’t last long enough to worry about shelf-life. However, according to Myra Kornfeld (The Healthy Hedonist) it will keep, covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

(This article first appeared in the March 2017 Ruff Fitness Newsletter.)

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Copyright © 2017 by Julie Francella Richards
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