A white (faranje) adoptive mother to two Ethiopian (habesha) girls wends her way through
Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D. J. Mesfin

Friday, February 5, 2010

Yeqwant'a Chi'kko (Dried Meat with Spiced Barley Meal)

This was to be last week's dish, but I didn't have any qwant'a (jerky).  While there is a recipe for it in the book, I decided just to order some.  If the number 31 ever comes up on random.org, I promise I'll make my own from scratch, even though I have no idea how one goes about drying 10 lbs. of meat.  I somehow envision jerky hanging from my shower curtain rod, perhaps because I have a friend whose (now-ex-) husband used to make yogurt and cheese, and she had all sorts of odd things hanging from her shower curtain rod.  

Today, the package arrived from Brundo with all the jerky I needed, and then some (as I type, my husband is happily chowing down on the rest of a bag that I didn't need all of).  

Qwant'a looks pretty simple, just meat rubbed with berbere (or awaze, a red pepper paste) and black pepper that is then dehydrated:


Chi'kko is spiced barley meal mixed with butter.  There is a recipe for barley flour in the book that is slightly spiced, but I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to have used that, or if plain barley flour would do (the book is not always clear).  I again took the easy way out and just purchased some barley flour at Whole Foods.  

According to the book, yeqwant'a chi'kko is served as a snack or appetizer. 

This recipe started with the melting of an enormous amount of butter (it's a recurring theme in Ethiopian cooking):

(there are some sticks hidden from view here)

To which some ginger, cardamom, black cumin, and salt were added:

I ground the cardamom from pods, as I have pods from when I make qibe.  Next time, I think I'll just grab some ground cardamom, as I couldn't really grind the pods as finely as I would have liked them.  And if you're ever thrown by the "black cumin" often called for in the recipes in this book, here's a helpful hint: Head to your Asian or Indian grocer and ask for kalonji.  I love walking into our local Asian market.  I love the smells and sounds, the produce I can't name, the labels I can't read, and the fact that almost the only thing that's jumbo sized in there is cooking oil (cookies and sweets are in reasonably sized packages).  It's like spending a little bit of time abroad.  The prices also tend to be quite good.  

While the butter melted, I worked on getting the jerky into a "fine powder".  I used my coffee grinder for the task, but if anyone else can offer some advice, I'd love it; I think I ask too much of my coffee grinders, as I burn them out...frequently.  I managed to get it ground:

However, I'm not sure I got it as finely ground as it was supposed to be, as the next step called for sifting it.  I pulled out my flour sifter and tried.  I managed to sift a very thin coating of jerky powder, but it was rough going and seemed to be heading towards an exercise in futility, so I gave up and decided it was fine enough.  

I added some berbere to the meat, then added the meat and the berbere to the barley flour. 

To this, I added the the butter and the spices and mixed it all up.  

After I first read through this recipe, I'd been referring to them as "jerky brownies" when speaking with my husband and this is why:

After letting them cool (really, it was just a matter of letting the butter become a solid once again), they could be cut up:

I can see how I might want to get the jerky ground even more finely, as when I cut the yeqwant'a into squares, I could see some meat fibers, albeit they were quite fine.  

My husband thought they seemed more like jerky fudge than brownies, but said that he couldn't try them tonight because he ate too much of the leftover jerky.  I tasted a crumb and it was quite rich, as you would expect with 3 c. of butter, but interestingly flavored.  I too will give them a proper tasting tomorrow.  

Some time this weekend, I'll be making what should have been today's recipe.  Meanwhile, next week's recipe calls for 2 lbs. of fresh (not dried) stinging nettle leaves.  Anyone have any ideas on where one would source such a thing?  I could find them myself in the summer, but not in the dead of winter.  

And so the adventure continues!


  1. Sheila, I loved this entry. Made me crack up laughing...which I needed tonight. It does look like jerkey fudge! And what, pray tell, are you going to do with several pounds of it? :) Love what you are doing. I am inspired. Jill Geselle

  2. Seriously? Meat butter berbere brownies? YUMMMM!!!