I seek out vegetarian dishes and this is one I love. You could consider shiro the mashed potatoes of Ethiopia; chickpea flour is something everyone can afford and it's nourishing. But nourishing doesn't come close to describing the flavors you get from the caramelized onion puree, the tomatoes, the berbere. It's rich and earthy and satisfying. Serve it as a side dish or add some shiro to Berbere Roasted Carrots & Fennel with Oranges or just to some cooked broccoli and you have a perfect light and healthy lunch. As for the spiced butter, make it and you have flavor. You can saute with it because it's been clarified and can take high heat. You can stir it into rice and use it to finish other dishes. Think of it as the butter.
Heat the olive oil and 2 teaspoons of the Spiced Butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and berbere and whisk until combined. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and the mixture has thickened up slightly, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in the chickpea flour, stirring briskly to avoid lumps; this will thicken quickly. Whisk in the tomatoes, 1 cup of water and the remaining 1 teaspoon Spiced Butter. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, adding more water as needed and stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and the flour has cooked out, at least 10 minutes and up to 45 minutes for a stronger flavor. The shiro should have the consistency of thick buttermilk; it will thicken as it stands and cools. Season with salt and pepper and serve on injera if desired.
Yield:Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Cut the butter into pieces and put in a saucepan with the cinnamon, garlic, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric. Turn the heat to low, let the butter melt, then simmer very gently (you don't want the milk solids to brown) for 30 minutes to infuse the flavors into the butter.
Let the butter sit for 10 minutes until the milk solids settle at the bottom. Skim off any froth and pull out the cinnamon, garlic, ginger, and rosemary. Pour the butter into a large measuring cup--be careful to leave all the milk solids behind. Discard the solids. Then pour the butter into ice cube trays and freeze it. Once they're solid, you can put the butter cubes into plastic bags and keep them in the freezer for months.
Chickpea flour is also called garbanzo bean flour or gram flour. You'll find it in large grocery stores, health food stores, and online.