Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ethiopian Butcha, Buticha, or Fancy Hummus?

I haven't been able to get my hands on an Ethiopian cookbook (does it exist?) and most of the recipes I find online vary greatly from each other, as well as versions I've eaten.  But I've been meaning to try to recreate Butcha, a dish I had at Mesob Ethiopian restaurant a few months ago and today I decided to wing it.

Ethiopian-inspired Hummus (?)

2 cans chick peas, rinsed & drained
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 green chili peppers*, finely chopped (that's all I had)
4 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp evoo
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper*

  1. In a large, shallow bowl, mash chickpeas to smithereens with a potato masher.
  2. Add onion and chili peppers.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients.
  4. Add liquid to peas, onions, & peppers, stir.
  5. Chill overnight & serve.
 *Please keep in mind that I like things rather spicy, so adjust to taste.

While it didn't wind up tasting even remotely like Mesob's version, it did make quite a nice spread/sandwich filling.  It was nowhere near authentic enough to inspire me to attempt to make my own injera to accompany it, so instead I served it in red leaf lettuce boats.  The tomato was a bit overpowering to eat with it, but made a nice side.  I know we all have a million other such recipes to try (gotta love the versatile chick pea), but I'd recommend giving this one a go: maybe doctoring it up with some traditional Ethiopian spices if you've got 'em.


  1. That looks so good!

    And anything that uses chickpeas and leaves out the tahini is a-ok in my book!

  2. Five chili peppers AND 1 teaspoon of cayenne seems like a lot, but it sounds great! I'll have to try this chickpea variation.

  3. Andrea- I like things REALLY spicy...this wasn't at all spicy to my tastebuds which, admittedly, might be immune to spice at this point.

  4. I was quite intrigued by this dish too. My research showed it is usually made with chickpea flour. Some recipes referred to a "spiced chickpea mixture". It seems this part is toasted in most of the recipes. But like you say, it is nearly impossible to find an actual recipe.
    The texture was dry and crumbly. Very unique. Yours looks tasty. Just different. You just have to go back to Mesob I guess...

  5. GonePie,
    I did read something about toasting and considered doing so to my canned chickpeas...but thought better of it. The flour makes sense because I think that's what the chick pea "cakes" in my dish were made of; however, it is way beyond me (as evidenced here) to figure out how to turn any kind of flour into the egg-like consistency and deliciousness of the Mesob dish.

  6. The secret to authentic ethiopian flavoring is the MitMita (red powder). Pretty much every base recipe has garlic, onions, ginger, japaleno, sometimes tumeric, mitmita, and cooking oil (no extra virgin-- that gives it a distinctly non ethiopian flavor)

  7. I just went to BUNNA Ethiopian at Brooklyn flea. All vegan and very tasty. You might want to ask them, they do a few spins on butecha. For cookbooks, I published vegetarian Ethio recipes from dishes served in now closed Book Lovers Cafe "Ethiopian Inspired Cooking, Vegetarian Specialties". Excellent recipes.


Have you got something to say? It would be so nice to hear from you!
(I know captchas suck, but not as much as spam.)