I love Ethiopian food! Not only is it delicious and fun to eat, but it’s also healthy and very veg-friendly.
Where I live in the Midway neighborhood and along University Avenue in St. Paul we have some excellent Ethiopian restaurants–Fasika and Demera are my current favorites. And we also have some great Ethiopian markets as well. You can find fresh injera, lentils, and berbere spice blend at places like Addis Market just east of Snelling and Sherburne.
But what do you do with those ingredients? That’s where Kittee Berns’ fantastic book Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking comes in.
Teff Love begins with a concise overview of all the basics you need to know about Ethiopian cuisine, from descriptions of ingredients, cooking and serving techniques, and a grocery list to a brief history of Ethiopia. It turns out that members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church fast over 200 days of the year. When they break their fasts in late afternoons they are supposed to refrain from eating animal products. That’s why Ethiopian food is so veg-friendly!
The recipes are the stars of Teff Love. All my favorites from the veggie sampler platters I love to get at my local restaurants are helpfully labeled. There are recipes for Ye’Misser Wot (Red Lentils in a Spicy Sauce), Ye’Ater Kik Alicha (Split Peas in a Mild Sauce), Ye’Abesha Gomen (Tender Stewed Collard Greens), and Ye’Tikil Gomen Be’Karot (Stewed, Seasoned Cabbage with Tender Carrots in a Garlic-Ginger Sauce). You can even learn to make Injera, that delicious spongy, slightly sour flat bread that typically accompanies Ethiopian food!
Along with traditional Ethiopian recipes, there are a range of inspired adaptations and fusion offerings. You can learn to make Ethiopian style Scrambled Tofu (Ye’Tofu Enkulal Firfir) and mac-and-cheesie, garlic jojos with Ethiopian spices, and spicy lasagna roll ups. Teff (the staple Ethiopian grain that is the namesake of the book) makes a creative appearance in the dessert section – you can whip up some spiced teff snickerdoodles or mocha teff brownies!
When it came time to do some cooking, I stuck to the classics. I made some Ye’Misser Wot (Red Lentils in a Spicy Sauce), Ye’Tikil Gomen Be’Karot (Stewed, Seasoned Cabbage with Tender Carrots in a Garlic-Ginger Sauce), and Ye’Zelbo Gomen Be’Karot (Tender Kale with Carrots, Onion, and Mild Spices). The food was amazing! I’ve tried making these dishes before, but the recipes from Teff Love helped me turn out much richer versions with great depth of flavor. I’ll be digging into this book a lot!
Ye’Tikil Gomen Be’Karot
(Stewed, Seasoned Cabbage with Tender Carrots in a Garlic-Ginger Sauce)
Makes 4 cups
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into sticks (1 cup)
- ½ white or yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or grated (2 teaspoons)
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more if desired
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ green cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (7 cups)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 to 2 jalapeňo chiles, seeded, veined, and cut into thin strips lengthwise
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put the carrot, onion, olive oil, ginger, garlic, and salt in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or burning, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the turmeric, cardamom, and cloves and cook for 1 minute. Add the cabbage and water and stir well to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, for 10 minutes. Add the chiles, cover, and cook until the cabbage is very tender and the carrots are soft, about 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt if desired.
Per cup: 163 calories, 1 g protein, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 17 g carbohydrates, 19 2 mg sodium, 103 mg calcium, 5 g fiber.