Ethiopian Spicy and Sweet Meatballs

When I lived in Rochester, there was this Ethiopian restaurant I used to go to.  A salesperson that I dealt with used to bring me there a lot and I loved it.  One of my co-workers used to tease me and ask (okay, for any of you who are very sensitive to p.c. issues, please skip this next quote), “What?  Do they stand there with a machine gun and a glass of water and force you to drink?”  No, not really, but you do sit on the floor.  Anyway, I really liked the injera (the flat bread) and the spicy stews were just amazing.  Well, that was before the internet so looking up Ethiopian recipes was kind of not possible.  I guess if I lived in a larger city and had access to a huge bookstore, I could have bought a cookbook on Ethiopian cooking, but that didn’t happen.  Alas!  Fast forward 20 years and something reminded me of that Ethiopian restaurant and so, like any foodie, I googled Ethiopian recipes and found the recipe for injera (who knew it was so easy to make) and for doro wat (a spicy chicken leg stew-ish recipe).  I made that last week.  Oh, my:  my house smelled amazing.  Even my pickiest eater tore into the chicken like, well, like he was coming off of an Ethiopian famine (sorry, very un-p.c. but I couldn’t resist.  I know, Ethiopia is not nearly as ravished by famine as it was 20 years ago).  So, doro wat is made with a spice mixture called berbere and the recipe didn’t use the entire amount of the berbere mix, so I wanted to make something with it.  I happened to have some ground chicken and ground lamb in the fridge and thought of meatballs in a berbere spiced sauce.  This is another winner.  My family loved this one too.  It’s just slightly spicy and very aromatic.  It’s great comfort food.  Now, don’t let the list of ingredients scare you off.  You can make a lot of it ahead of time and it’s actually quite simple to make.  I had mine on mashed cauliflower, but the rest of my family had theirs on rice.  Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Ethiopian Spicy and Sweet Meatballs

Ethiopian Spicy and Sweet Meatballs



Berbere Spice Mixture:

2 Tbsp. Piment d’Espelette (or substitute chili powder)

2 Tbsp. Paprika

2 Tbsp. Sea Salt

2 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Tsp. Ground Fenugreek

1 Tsp. Ground Coriander

1 Tsp. Ground Ginger

½ Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

¼ Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

Pinch Ground Clove

Pinch Ground Cinnamon

Pinch Ground Allspice

4 Cloves Garlic

1 Small Onion, chopped

½ Cup Water

4 Tbsp. Olive Oil


Niter Kibbeh (spiced clarified butter):

1 lb. Grass Fed Butter

½ Onion, chopped

2 Cloves Garlic, smashed

1 Tsp. Minced Fresh Ginger

½ Tsp. Turmeric

4 Cardamom Pods, smashed

½ Tsp. Cinnamon

½ Tsp. Dried Basil

2 Whole Cloves

¼ Tsp. Freshly Ground Nutmeg

¼ Tsp. Ground Fenugreek



2 lbs. Ground Chicken

1 lb. Ground Lamb

2 Tbsp. Niter Kibbeh

1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil

½ Onion, chopped

1 Tsp. Minced Ginger

1 Cup Almond Flour

3 Eggs

1 ½ Tsp. Sea Salt

½ Tsp. Ground Fenugreek



1 C. Chicken Stock

2 C. Beef Stock

½ C. Berbere

2 Tbsp. Tapoica Flour

2 Tbsp. Honey

2 Hard Boiled Eggs per person



Niter Kibbeh:  (This can be prepared the day before.)  In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add all ingredients and lower heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for about 40 minutes.  When the solids in the butter have turned a golden brown, remove from heat and strain mixture through cheesecloth.  Discard solids and let cool.

Berbere:  (This also can be prepared the day before.)  In a dry pan, toast all of the spices until fragrant.  Place the onion and garlic in a food processor with ½ cup of water and process until smooth.  Add in spices, salt, and oil and mix thoroughly.  Pour mixture into a small saucepan and simmer over medium high heat for about 10 minutes until thickened.  Store any leftovers in an air-tight container with a thin film of oil on top.

Meatballs:  Preheat oven to 375⁰.  Oil two cookie sheets.  In a small sauté pan, melt the niter kibbeh and coconut oil.  Add in the onion and ginger and saute until the onions are slightly golden.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the all of the ingredients together until well mixed.  With a small ice cream scoop, scoop meat mixture onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake in preheated oven for about 18 minutes, until no longer pink on the inside.

Sauce:  In a large braising pan or skillet, combine the stocks, berbere, tapioca flour, and honey.  Whisk together thoroughly and bring to a simmer.  When meatballs are done, add to sauce.

To Serve:  Serve on hot rice or riced cauliflower with quartered hard boiled eggs.  Serves about 8 people.


Hope you enjoy it!  Blessings….


About Markowskis

Were a family sold out to serving the Lord: "Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing." - Psalm 100:2
This entry was posted in Diet and Health, Paleo Diet and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ethiopian Spicy and Sweet Meatballs

  1. Joanna says:

    Sounds delish!

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