Citizens, there are three beef dishes that TFD – the veritable Caliph of Carnivores! – loves uncooked – Koi Soi from Thailand, Steak Tartare from France and Kitfo from Ethiopia! TFD has long been a strong proponent of Ethiopian cuisine, and I am delighted to be able to share this recipe with you today! 🙂
Kitfo – while similar to steak tartare at first look – is actually quite different in both seasonings and preparation.
Kitfo, sometimes spelled ketfo, is a traditional dish found in Ethiopian cuisine. Kitfo consists of minced raw beef, marinated in mitmita (a chili powder-based spice blend) and niter kibbeh (a clarified butter infused with herbs and spices). The word comes from the Ethio-Semitic root k-t-f, meaning “to chop finely; mince.”
Kitfo cooked lightly rare is known as kitfo leb leb. Kitfo is often served alongside—sometimes mixed with—a mild cheese called ayibe or cooked greens known as gomen. In many parts of Ethiopia, kitfo is served with injera, a flatbread made from teff. Though not considered a delicacy, kitfo is generally held in high regard.
It is served on special occasions such as holidays; it is commonly used on the “Finding of the True Cross” or “Meskel” holiday celebrated annually on September 27 in Ethiopia.
There are several unique ingredients in this recipe, specific to Ethiopian cuisine. The first is mitmita, (ሚጥሚጣ in Amharic), a powdered seasoning mix used in Ethiopia. It is orange-red in color and contains ground African bird’s eye chili peppers, cardamom seed, cloves, and salt. It occasionally has other spices including cinnamon, cumin, and ginger.
The mixture is used to season the raw beef dish kitfo and may also be sprinkled on ful medames (fava beans). In addition, mitmita may be presented as a condiment and sprinkled on other delicacies or spooned onto a piece of injera, so that morsels may be lightly dipped into it.
There is an excellent discussion of mitmita on this scholarly page.
Niter kibbeh is basically spiced ghee or clarified butter that uses several unique spices to Ethiopian cuisine. My recipe for it is here. Since Ethiopian goat cheese is unavailable in the states, I recommend a good, finely crumbled sheep’s milk feta mixed with top-quality cottage cheese instead. My recipe – if you’re bold! – for making injera is here.
You can get all of these spices as well as pre-made injera, niter kibbeh and mitmita at Brundo, my favorite Ethiopian market. They ship nationwide and were kind enough to send me a number of different spices as a thank you for my strong patronage! TFD salutes the entire team there and makes them all Citizens First-Class!
If you love steak tartare, you will absolutely adore this exotic variant, my Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo