Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Niter Kibbeh (spiced clarified butter)

The first time I made this, I was struck by two things: 1. the unbelievable smell permeating throughout my entire house (I wanted to drink some, but I knew that would be gross, so I didn't go there). And 2. the almost florescent yellow color of the finished product (I don't think the photo does it justice, this stuff practically glows in the dark).

Niter Kibbeh is spiced clarified butter used in Ethiopian cooking. It's a great secret weapon to have in your flavor arsenal. Next time you're not sure what to do with vegetables, fish or meat, try sauteing it in some of this. You'll thank me later.

Yield: 2 cups

1 lb. unsalted butter (good quality olive oil or other oil can be substituted to make vegan)
¼ cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves, whole
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh basil

1.      In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter and bring it to bubbling. When the top is covered with foam, add the other ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer. Gently simmer, uncovered, on low heat.
2.      After about 45 to 60 minutes, when the surface becomes transparent and the milk solids are on the bottom, pour the liquid through cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container. Discard the spices and solids.
Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. Niter Kebbeh will keep for up to 2 months.

foam on top (ready to add spices)
spices added
after about 30 minutes
after 60 minutes (ready to strain)
straining into a bowl

Here's a great Ethiopian dish you can make using niter kibbeh: Tekil Gomen (cabbage, potatoes & carrots).


Randi said...

How long does it keep?

Susan said...

Officially, for 2 months (but I'll admit it, I used it once at well over 3 months. I gave it a good once over (plus the smell test) first and it was fine. It can last so long because all the milk solids have been removed.

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