Daddy Waal: Ethiopian Chef Extrodinaire
A little while back Bethany and Kailey checked out a kid's book on Ethiopia from the library. In the back was a recipe for Ethiopian cookies. Rhonda was working that Saturday so I went to the store. There was one ingredient I couldn't find at home.
Now I don't have much experience as a cook so I don't know what I'm looking for in a recipe. I knew these cookies would be different. The pictures in the book looked different. They were smaller than normal cookies and they weren't flat. The recipe called for us to make 3/4 inch dough balls.
The girls carefully measured out the ingredients and we mixed them in a bowl. Didn't seem like much at all. The largest quantity in the recipe was only one cup (flour). We mixed the dough with our hands just like it said. All three of us wanted to get in on the action and get our hands dirty. But this wasn't your ordinary dough. About half way through our mixture became Ethiopian Super Glue. ALL THE DOUGH - every bit of it - was stuck on our hands. Now we were faced with the impossible task of making the dough balls.
Imagine jamming both your hands into a large tub of sticky peanut butter and then trying to roll nice round dough balls and placing them neatly on a cookie sheet. That's what it was like, only this stuff was stickier.
We tried every method imaginable. Rolling, flicking, scraping, shaking, double-teaming - nothing seemed to work. I remembered in home ec (yes, I took that worthless class in 7th grade) that if you didn't want your dough to stick to the counter that you needed to powder the counter with flour first.
That's it! Flour will take the stickiness away!
Yeah right. I'll leave it to your imagination how that turned out. At that moment a thought crossed my mind: "Man, I'm glad Rhonda's not here to see this."
The doughball method of choice could best be described as scrape-flick. Scrape a small wad of goo to the end of your fingers and flick it on the cookie sheet. Aim was unnecessary (and totally irrelevant). Sometimes you'd hit your target. Sometimes...
Finally we had two cookie sheets full of what looked like - well, I'm not real sure what they looked like. Never seen anything quite like it before. At least not anything you're supposed to eat. (I'll not comment on what it really looked like).
The baking was the easy part. Baked the stickiness right out of them. "Oh, I guess they're supposed to be really hard."
REALLY hard. Not like American cookies. Not over-baked Snickerdoodle hard. Sounded like I dropped a bag of marbles on the counter when I scraped them off.
The biggest ingredient in the cookies was flour. 1 cup. The second biggest ingredient was only a whopping 3 tablespoons - the ingredient that I went to the store to get.
Has anyone ever told you that Ethiopian food is super hot? I like hot. Usually. But not this time. The missing ingredient? Cayenne pepper. 3 tablespoons is almost an entire bottle!
One cookie was all I ate. I had a sore throat for two days.
It was even hotter coming out.
The rest went into the trash.