Ethiopian Alicha Wot (Spicy Stewed Chana Dal or Split Peas)
The final dish will resemble spicy creamed corn. It will thicken slightly as it cools. Serve with Ethiopian Injera (teff pancakes) or even Indian Chapati, or over rice or barley.
1 1/2 cups Chana Dal (may substitute yellow split peas)
2 cups finely chopped onion
1-2 inches ginger, finely mashed/chopped
1/4 cup garlic, finely mashed/chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup spicy butter or olive oil (below)
1-2 tablespoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
white or black pepper to taste
salt to taste
Indian variation: you will add 2 cups diced tomatoes and 1/4 cup diced mild green chilis after the onions are translucent. Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder and 1/2 tablespoon garam masala with the other spices. Garnish the cooked dish with fresh cilantro leaves.
Sort and wash Chana Dal, removing all black or green pieces as these add bitterness. Cover with water , 3 inches above the level of the beans. The liquid will provide the "gravy" for this dish. Simmer gently. When dal are almost translucent and are softened, set aside. Some of them may split; this is okay. This step can be done ahead, but the dish is even better if the whole stew is completed and then allowed to blend together.
Meanwhile, in another heavy pot, sweat the onions in a little bit of water until very translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and saute' for a minute or two. Add oil or butter and saute' until the mixture is very softened. This must not burn or bitter taste will result. Add the remaining ingredients except salt (will toughen dal...add at end to taste) and fry until the oil separates.
Add the dal with their liquid and cook until the dal are very soft, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.