Friday, January 1, 2010

Adventures in Ethiopian Cooking...

Scott and I were required to bring an Ethiopian dish to our international adoption class' potluck. Though I am a lousy cook and have never made Ethiopian food before what concerned me most about this request was the fact that there were not one, but two, Ethiopian women in my class. So, I have to make Ethiopian food for Ethiopians?!?!?!?!

After looking over some recipes, I decided to try and make dabo kolo, a small bread type snack. It appealed to me as it only required one exotic ingredient and looked like something the whole family, Jack and Logan included, could make together.

Here is the recipe:

2 cups wheat flour
2 tablespoons berbere*
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons butter, softened (room temperature)
  • In a clean mixing bowl, combine and mix dry ingredients (flour, berberé, sugar, and salt).
  • Slowly add the water and mix so as to form a thick paste. Remove the mixture from the bowl and knead it on a lightly-floured surface for a few minutes to form a thick dough. Add the softened butter and knead for an additional five minutes. Let the dough rest in a cool place for ten minutes.
  • Divide the dough into handful-size pieces and roll these into long "pencils" not quite as thick as your small finger. Cut these rolls into pieces (scissors can be used), each piece no longer than the width of your finger. (Jack and Logan loved helping for this part.)

  • Heat an ungreased skillet over a medium heat. Place enough of the uncooked dabo kolo in the skillet to loosely cover the bottom. (They may have to be cooked in batches.) Cook over medium heat, stirring periodically, until they are lightly browned on all sides, -- OR -- Arrange on a baking sheet. Bake in a hot oven (350 degrees) for twenty to thirty minutes, stirring or shaking the pan a few times to prevent sticking.
  • When done, remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in dry air-tight containers.
* Berbere is a collection of finely ground spices including hot cayenne pepper, garlic, sweet paprika, ginger and cloves. I bought mine at a local Ethiopian merkato (market) but you can substitute cayenne pepper if you don't happen to have berbere in the spice pantry.

(This recipe is from Recipe Zaar.)

Luckily, when I was at the merkato buying berbere I bought some pre-made dabo kolo. We had never had it before so it was our control subject. The store bought varieties were very crunchy. Unfortunately, the ones we made were hard on the outside but a bit doughy in the middle. Next time we will try making them a lot skinnier.

We were told by one of the Ethiopian women in our class that she makes them without berbere and much much smaller. Knowing how Scott likes to experiment in the kitchen, I'm guessing there are some cinnamon dabo kolo in my future.


  1. next time pick something that requires cream of tartar! ;)

    I think I would like the cinnamon. YUM!

  2. What an experience. I think this is so cool. The cinnamon does sound good. I love anything with cinnamon.

  3. I received an Ethiopian Cooking Cookbook for Christmas this year...I need to dive in head-first, because I know it's going to be a challenge for me to make the food as good as it is in ET! I love recipezaar - found a few ET receipes on there too.

  4. i haven't stopped by for a while. sorry about that. i don't know why.
    anyway, i love hearing about your adoption journey. i have a friend who adopted her 2 boys from ethiopia and i think she and her husband are going over again soon to bring home 3 more! congrats!


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