The Best Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Split Pea Puree)
Have I hooked you onto Ethiopian food yet? If you like Indian curries, you’ll also likely really enjoy Ethiopian cuisine with its spicy, saucy stews (known as wats). Making it at home means you can vary the level of spice to your own palate. However, not all Ethiopian foods are melting from hot spices. Not everything has berbere in it.
As I said, when I tried a platter of assorted Ethiopian dishes, I was immediately enamored with the creamy split pea puree, also known as kik alicha. It was calm and comforting; soothing with its use of savoury spices. It contrasted well against the fiery hot wats and faux meats. Ethiopian food is usually very affordable, but I knew I could make a bean dish like this easily at home. I just needed a recipe.
I originally made the kik alicha from Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food but found it too savoury with its use of cinnamon, etc. Not that it was bad, it just wasn’t the dish from the restaurant that I was pining. Next, I tried the version from Olive Trees and Honey which had simpler ingredients: split peas, onion, garlic, and oil. It also called for a chile and I obliged by using one green chile. With the bountiful onions and garlic, this was flavourful, and not spicy at all with only one green chile. Mild, but not distracting. Creamy yet not oily. This was how it was meant to be. To make it even more luscious, puree the dish or partially mash.
Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Split Pea Puree)
Adapted from Olive Trees and Honey
2 large red onions, chopped (300g)
1 tbsp oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 cups water
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 green chili, deseeded and minced (optional, add to taste)
1 cup yellow split peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften.
2. Add the oil and when it begins to sputter, add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the water, turmeric, salt, pepper, and the optional chile. Cover and bring to a boil.
3. Add the split peas, return to a boil and partially cover, reduce heat and maintain a simmer until the peas have softened, around 45-60 minutes. Watch to see if you need to add more water. Mash the peas if you desire. Serve warm.