I’m sure many of you out there have had an interesting week – it’s school holidays after all. From what I can gather from parents of school-age kids, that’s a thing.
We had our own version of a school holiday kinda vibe at out house this week, even though young Kenzie is only 3. She got sick. The kind of sick that meant she was contagious enough to have to stay at home, but not sick enough to stay still. Conjunctivitis – you’re a special kinda hell raiser….
But I’m gonna be honest – I kinda loved being home with her for three whole days. It felt like a holiday (even though I was working most of the time – but you know what they say: “love your job and you’ll never work a day in your life”) A couple of yeas ago, when the business was still so young and we were still finding our feet, there is just no way I could have had three whole days out of the office, regardless of the staff we had. There is just no way, it would have been so overwhelming! But now, I can proudly say that the business is systematic enough to “run it self” in a way. I can take time out with a sick child, and the world doesn’t end. I am proud of that. So proud.
So we hung out. We played around with some slow cooked meals, because as you might know, there might maybe, possibly, hopefully be a slow cooker menu on the cards for this winter. yay 🙂 We ate lots of food. It was good. In the evening time, we enjoyed out “regular meals” from the Inspiration Menu, much like many of our customers. One of the absolute highlights was the “Crispy Berbere spiced chicken thighs served on puy lentil and vegetable medley “.
You might not know this, but this meal first appeared when the business was only 4 months old. I was just finding my feet in the recipe creation gig, and I fell in love with this spice mix! Then, somehow, this meal went into hibernation for a few years, until one day when I was flicking through the archive, reminiscing about the good old days (haha). I stumbled upon it and thought I have to cook this again! So i did. Here it is.
Berbere spice mix. In all its glory.
Emma’s Berbere Spice Mix
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
It’s a beautiful, fragrant (not hot spicy) spice mix originating from Ethiopia, featuring ground fenugreek, paprika and cardamom, just to name a few. It’s commonly used in meat dishes and vegetarian stews alike, to add a depth of flavour and richness to a meal.
So go ahead, get your creative hat out and start making dinner magic. Or, if you prefer the tried and tested recipe, here’s what we did with the Berbere spice mix.
Crispy Berbere spiced chicken thighs served on puy lentil and vegetable medley
For the lentil medley:
240 g puy lentils, rinsed
2 brown onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Berbere spice mix
4 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
For the chicken:
800 g chicken thigh, skin on
2 tbsp Berbere spice mix
Drizzle of olive oil
Method:Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.
For the lentil medley, rinse the lentils in a sieve, then drain. Finely chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom frying pan with a lid over a medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the spice mix (reserving some for the chicken), tomato paste and then pour in the stock. Add the lentils, cover the pan partially with a lid and cook for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are tender yet firm. Check the liquid in the pan towards the end and adjust as needed – the goal is a saucy lentil medley, but not a soup.
Handy hint: If your pan does not have a lid simply cover it tightly with a double layer of tinfoil.
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and place into an oven dish, skin side up. Sprinkle with the remaining Berbere spice mix, ensuring even coverage all over the chicken. Place in the oven with the skin side up, and cook for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
To serve, slice the chicken with a sharp knife and serve on top of the vegetable and lentil medley.