Koch-kocha is a traditional sauce prepared in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The name Koch–kocha is in the Afan Oromo language and means “spicy pounded and moistened green pepper.”
The national name in Amharic is linkit. Koch-kocha is traditionally prepared by women who grind green peppers on a flat, wet grinding stone. The powdered, green pepper is then mixed with spices and distilled butter to create the final product.
For storage, Koch-kocha is kept in a container made from a halved, boiled anchote (a type of gourd). It is used as a sauce for many kinds of foods, including anchote, cheeses, flatbreads and meat. It is also served with maro (a kind of bread made of fresh corn) and dimina (raw meat).
Koch-kocha with anchote is often served for religious observances. The sauce is also part of meals for the festivity of Ayyana Fano Oromo, which is held one week after the first appearance of the moon in the month of September that signals the end of summer work and the start of a new year. Furthermore, for the occasion of dabo, it is consumed with cabbage. Dabo is the collaboration between farmers sharing work with one another. Koch-kocha is also served to welcome houseguests.
Describing Koch-kocha as an Ethiopian salsa verde is not entirely inappropriate. The only accurate description I’ve found in English describes it as a pounded mixture of green chili pepper (similar to Anaheim), garlic, ginger, bishop’s weed, false cardamom, and sacred basil.
Bishop’s weed is better known as the spice the Indians call Ajwain and is easily purchased in the appropriate markets or online. False cardamom is unavailable outside of Ethiopia as far as I can tell, but the taste is very similar to cardamom with a bit of Grains of Paradise spice. I’ve created a reasonable taste facsimile using these two spices.
Sacred basil is Thai Holy Basil, which can be easily simulated by using Italian basil with a touch of ground star anise (not too much!).
Koch-kocha is a rare recipe, even in Ethiopia, and I’ve not found any satisfactory recipes in English on the Web (most leave out the Ajwain, as one example). This may be the most authentic recipe outside of Ethiopia. You can buy Grains of Paradise here.
Enjoy it, Citizens! 🙂
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