Kulwha (Eritrean Stir-fry) – Hab Shifa

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Kulwha (Eritrean Stir-fry)


Nit’r kibbeh (spiced ghee)

  • 500 g unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds, ground



  • 1 tbsp nit’r kibbeh 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 long green chilli, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 500 g lamb fillet, diced into small cubes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp berbere (see Note)
  • Injera bread (see Note) or steamed rice, to serve



To make the nit’r kibbeh, heat the butter in a small saucepan over low–medium heat until it has begun to simmer gently. Simmer for about 30 minutes, skimming the foam off the surface, until the top layer of butter is completely clear. Carefully strain the butter through a fine sieve over a bowl, leaving the milk solids in the bottom of the pan. Stir the spices into the clarified butter. Allow to cool then transfer to an airtight container (see Note).

To make the kulwha, put 1 tbsp nit’r kibbeh, oil, onion, chilli, half the tomato, the lamb and salt into a large frying pan and place over high heat. Stir-fry until the meat is cooked through (about 3 minutes).

Add the berbere and the remaining tomato and cook for another 1 minute.

Serve with injera or steamed rice.


Cook’s note

  • Berbere is an Ethiopian chilli-spice blend, available online and from African grocers and specialty stores.
  • The recipe for nit’r kibbeh makes more than you need, but it can be refrigerated for up to 3 months and used in other recipes (like this Ethiopian doro wat) or as you would ghee.
  • Injera is an unleavened bread (like a pancake), made from teff flour, eaten with curries and stir-fries in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Here’s a recipe to make your own.