On Sunday, I was inspired to cook an Ethiopian-inspired meal. I’ve been slowly gathering my supplies: teff flour, cardamom and coriander, turmeric and lots of vegan butter and olive oil, etc.,. And this weekend felt like a good one for jumping into some authentic Ethiopian cooking.
I absolutely love Ethiopian food, and have been a big fan of the cuisine for quite a few years. The truth is, I could eat Ethiopian food every week. And that would be a fabulous option, except I actually enjoy cooking. Instead of spending money on lots of takeout, I chose to try my hand at authentic Ethiopian dishes: misr wat (red lentils), tikel gomen (only cabbage) and potatoes and carrots alicha, and injera.
Here’s the finished product:
Don’t be deceived: it may not look appealing, but it was so delicious. Now, I’ve definitely tried preparing these dishes before (all except for the injera: this was my first time trying my hand at that). Many times I’ve attempted to prepare Ethiopian food but the seasoning was just OFF. What I eventually learned was that my berbere seasoning (a spice blend I purchased from Amazon) was way, way too hot. And I’m not heat-shy at all: I love spicy foods, and I couldn’t handle the overwhelming heat of Frontier Seasoning’s berbere. In all of my time eating Ethiopian food, I’d never had anything as spicy as the berbere mix that I was using. I had to find another way.
It was time to make my berbere from scratch. And, to paraphrase Robert Frost, that made all of the difference.
Everything was DELICIOUS. The berbere was perfectly balanced and not too spicy. And no, I didn’t write down what I did AT ALL. But, I’ll share the websites I used to make everything. I did a mashup of a couple of recipes, so nothing on my plate is 100% from any particular website.
Since I didn’t adhere to any singular recipe, I’ll put out all of my other disclaimers and advice, too:
- I didn’t let the injera dough ferment for four days, as recommended. I had an alternate recipe that recommended that fermentation could occur in as little as one day, which was the case for me. The sour flavor wasn’t as strong as it would have been, had I let it sit longer. But I was still pleased with the outcome.
- Fenugreek is a critical spice for the misr wat, and I didn’t have it. I found out later that it’s pretty hard to find in most grocery stores. But one website conveniently compared fenugreek to a mix of celery salt and maple syrup. So I threw in a little celery salt, and I was delighted with the result.
- The misr wat looked nothing like what I was used to (when I purchase Ethiopian food), but I loved the flavor. I’ll tinker with some more recipes and post my results in the future.
- I still have to perfect my injera technique, but I liked the overall result. I used teff flour only (no wheat or barley flour added), so that created the super-dark coloring. It was mildly sour and tasty, albeit a bit thicker than most restaurant-style injera.
- The cabbage was done more like a stir-fry, since I didn’t want it cooked to mush. Since I cooked it a bit firm, it reheats wonderfully (it isn’t too mushy).
- Save yourself some time and just cut up several onions and start sauteeing them initially. Then, just portion off the onions you need for each dish into a separate pot or pan, add some more butter (in my case, Earth Balance butter substitute) and olive oil, and resume cooking.
These are the websites I used for my recipes:
How to Cook Great Ethiopian Food (I looked up a bunch of different recipes on this one)
Have any of you tried cooking Ethiopian dishes? If so, let me know how that worked out for you, or if you have a favorite Ethiopian dish that you’ve perfected!