Top Chef DC: Foreign Affairs – What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation]

abattoir chophouse - tripe stew 

Last night’s Top Chef: DC episode was filled up from the floor up with ingredients of mystery.  Entitled “Foreign Affairs,” it started with Ethiopian food and resolved itself around several different types of cuisine.  Though the guest judges included Marcus Samulsson and José Andrés, I’m not so sure the participants are worth the duo’s attention.  I guess now is as good a time as any to remind you that we have a plethora of Ethiopian restaurants here in Atlanta.  The leader of the pack? One Desta Ethiopian Kitchencheck it out!

Hopefully, this post will supplement the cursory explanation Samulsson gave of some Ethiopian dishes.  Okay dookie, sit back and enjoy this spoiler free recap.


A spice mixture made of chile peppers, ginger, coriander, allspice, cloves, and a few other things.  The mixture can be tweaked and still called berbere.  It’s perhaps the most central spice in Ethiopian cuisine.

As denoted by JA, this is an Argentinian/Uruguan sauce.  It’s almost always green (though a red version can be found from time to time) … think of it as Argentinian salsa verde.  The main participants are parsley, garlic, oil, vinegar, and pepper flakes.  Like berbere, you can throw a handful of other ingredients in and still have a chimichurri sauce.

Currants are a type of shrub sporting berries.  The berries themselves also bare the name of the plant, which is in season during Summer months.  They’re big and juicy and should be somewhat tart.

Actually, the term is Doro Wat.  This is an Ethiopian stew often eaten with injera (see below).  The protein can change.  For example, lamb and beef are perfectly acceptable to use.  Berbere is usually in the base while seasoned butter is also used.

I’ve seen it spelled all three ways.  Not to be confused with Buddhist dukkha, it’s a spice mixture of herbs and nuts.  It’s actually Egyptian and as is the theme with this post, a concoction whose ingredients are not always the same. 

Injera bread
Injera is to Ethiopian food as naan is to Indian food.  It’s the utensil of choice over in Ehtiopia and it happens to be a spongy flatbread.  It’s made from teff, a small seeded grain native to Ethiopia.

Nudi, sometimes known as naked ravioli, is ravioli without the dough.  Bam, roasted!

To be honest, I don’t actually remember hearing this term.  I must have tuned out … I saw it run across the twitterverse when Joe Yonan (aka @WaPoFoodLive) mentioned it.  As a quick aside, Yonan’s feed during TC time may be the best reason to watch this season.  Back on topic, raita is an Indian yoghurt used as a condiment.  It’s got coriander in it, cumin, mint, and cayenne pepper.  As you may have guessed, there are plenty of variations … but thems the main stuff.

Stomach lining from animals like cow, pigs, etc…

Tortas are a type of Mexican sandwich.  [SPOILER ALERT] The moron who made them last night didn’t actually make tortas.  But that’s for another type of recap post.

See, this stuff isn’t so hard!  Okay gang, that wraps up this week’s “What Ingredient Was That?”  I hope you found this post useful; please feel free to ask about other things or expand on what I’ve said down below in the comments!

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