Four Easy Ethiopian Recipes for a Fantastic Feast | Kitchen Frau (2024)

Have fun and cook a traditional Ethiopian feast! Make up a batch of Misir Wat, (a savoury lentil stew), Zigni Wat (spicy ground beef), Gomen Wat (creamy stewed spinach) and then mop it all up with Injera (soft, spongy flatbreads). No utensils needed! (All four Ethiopian recipes here.)

This month for our Eat the World recipe challenge, we travel back to the continent of Africa, to the exotic country of Ethiopia which is centered in the Horn of Africa (that chunk of Africa that juts out to the northeast). Ethiopia is the largest country situated in the Horn, bordering one of our previously visited countries, Kenya, to the north. Completely landlocked, Ethiopia is a vast land of rugged topography, with five diverse regions of highlands, lowlands, and rich agricultural Lakes Region.

The food that comes to mind first when I think of Ethiopia is always injera, the large spongy sourdough flatbread made of teff (the world's tiniest grain). A few years ago we discovered the lovely Ethiopian restaurant in Edmonton, Langano Skies, and ever since, I've been smitten with this delicious cuisine and the fun way of traditionally eating it. The meal, a variety of long-simmered savoury stews, is served on a large injera flatbread set out on a flat basket or plate in the center of the table, with additional pieces of injera rolled up alongside. All the diners eat together from the communal meal by tearing off pieces of the tasty teff flatbread and using it to scoop up mouthfuls of the various stews.

Wat (or wot) means 'food' or 'stew' in the Ethiopian language. What makes these stews Ethiopian is the use of slow-simmered onions as a base and thickener. Two traditional Ethiopian ingredients are niter kibbeh and berbere. Niter kibbeh is a clarified butter simmered with spices to season it and berbere is a spice mix used in much of Ethiopian cooking.To simplify the following recipes I've used ghee, but if you've got some niter kibbeh on hand, by all means use it. I've also used purchased berbere(the traditional Ethiopian spice mix) but you can easily make your own. (I buy mine at Silk Road Spice Merchant in Edmonton.)

Traditional injera is made by fermenting a paste of teff flour and water for three to five days into a kind of sourdough starter. I tried it and mine just got sour but didn't really ferment. The flavour was much too strong and unpalatable and the flatbread turned out hard and stiff. Upon some internet research I found that the teff flour we get here in North America doesn't ferment properly, so I adapted this quicker method using yeast, and was very pleased with the result - soft, spongy injera that tastes great and works beautifully for mopping up all the delicious Ethiopian stews. A splash of vinegar stirred in before cooking adds the required tang to these flatbreads.

Following are also recipes for three traditional Ethiopian dishes.Misir Watis the comforting red lentil stew that is a basic part of most Ethiopian meals. It's oily and flavourful; light but filling at the same time (don't try to reduce the amount of ghee or oil in it because that's what really adds to its luscious texture). Zigni Wat is a quick and easy spiced ground beef and onion stew, great for scooping up with injera. It's got a kick to it from the fiery berbere spice mix. You can add as much as you want to make the beef as spicy as you can tolerate it. (I'm a wimp and find that one tablespoon is plenty spicy enough for me, but I found recipes online that use up to a half cup of spice for a batch of the stew!) Gomen Wat is a mild and savoury stew of simmered spinach leaves. In my recipe I used blanched pumpkin leaves I had in the freezer, but any greens will do (collard greens are popular in Ethiopia). Some greens will need to be cooked longer than spinach, in order to become tender and silky.

To complete your Ethiopian meal, crumble some fresh cheese (feta is a good substitute) over and serve with a salad of tomato and cucumber chunks lightly dressed with vinegar and oil.

You can make all the components of this Ethiopian feast ahead; just reheat and put it together for a meal that is fun to serve to guests for a novel dinner party idea, or just as a tasty meal for your family on a weeknight. Even just one of the stews with the flatbreads would make a great meal, or serve the stews with rice instead of injera for a quicker take on this Ethiopian feast.

* * * * *

For a vegetarian/vegan version of the following Ethiopian recipes: Use olive oil instead of ghee when making the Mesir Wat and Gomen Wat. When making the Signi Wat, replace the ground beef with 1½ cups of small diced potatoes plus 1½ cups of small diced butternut squash and increase the oil to 2 to 3 tablespoons.

A Speedy Method for Making Tasty Ethiopian Flatbread

(Yes, it's two hours of rising, but that's speedy in comparison to the traditional five days of fermenting the batter!)

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1½ cups (190gms) all purpose flour (or for gluten free; use 1½ cups/190gms of agluten free flour blend +½ teaspoon powdered psyllium husks)
  • 1 cup (150gms) teff flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • oil, ghee, or cooking oil spray for cooking the injera

Add all the ingredients to a blender except the vinegar and oil. Pulse just to mix the batter. Pour the batter out into a bowl and loosely cover it with a clean tea towel. Leave the batter to proof at room temperature for two hours. It will be doubled in size and full of little bubbles.

When you are ready to cook the injera, stir the tablespoon of vinegar into the batter. Heat a non-stick large skillet over medium heat. Brush it lightly with oil, ghee, or spray it with cooking oil spray.

Pour about a half cup of the injera batter into the skillet, then lift the skillet and quickly rotate it so the batter spreads evenly over the bottom. Place it back on the heat and cook until the bottom is brown and lacy and the top is full of little bubble holes, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the injera and cook the other side for about 30 seconds.

Slide the injera onto a plate to keep warm, then re-grease the pan and continue making the flatbreads until the batter is used up.

Makes 8 injera (about 10 inches each)

(Lentil Stew)

  • ½ cup ghee or olive oil
  • 2 medium onions (2 cups, finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons berbere spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2½ cups (600ml) water

Heat the ghee or oil in a small dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the onions and cook together over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions turn golden brown. Add the grated ginger and garlic (a microplane grater works great for that), all the spices, and the salt, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring often.

Add the red lentils and the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the lentils for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serves 4.

(Berbere Spiced Ground Beef Stew)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons berbere spice mix
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb ground sirloin or lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 -2 tablespoons water

Cut the onion in quarters, then cut each quarter crosswise into thin slices. Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the sliced onions in the oil until they're soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic, ginger, berbere seasoning, and salt. cook and stir for 1 more minute.

Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the chunks with a spoon, until there is no pink remaining. Add the tomato paste and just enough water to moisten the meat. Cover the skillet with a lid, and simmer the meat mixture for 10 minutes, adding another splash of water if it gets too dry.

Serves 4.

(Stewed Spinach)

  • ¼ cup (60ml) ghee or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 packages (300gms/10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach, partially thawed or completely thawed, or 4 cups blanched, chopped spinach leaves or other greens

Finely chop the onion by hand or in a food processor or mini chopper.

Heat the ghee or oil in a skillet. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is golden brown, with some darker brown edges. Add the ginger, garlic, and salt, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring often.

If the frozen spinach blocks are partially thawed, cut them into 1 inch cubes with a serrated knife, and add the cubes to the onions in the skillet. If the spinach is completely thawed, add the spinach plus any of its melted liquid into the skillet. Cook until the spinach is thawed, if frozen, and heated through and bubbling. Cover the skillet with a lid and simmer the spinach for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and cook it for 5 to 10 minutes longer until the liquid is mostly evaporated.

Serves 4.

Guten Appetit!

Check out all the wonderful Ethiopian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!

Juli: Misir Wot - Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew
Sue: Ethiopian Beef Tibs
Amy: Buticha - Ethiopian Hummus
Syama: Himbasha - Ethiopian Spiced Bread
Evelyne: Flavor-Packed Ethiopian Shekla Tibs
Lynda: Tikel Gomen (Ethiopian Cabbage & Potatoes)
Wendy: Doro Wat and Atkilt
Camilla: Ye’abesha Gomen (Ethiopian Collard Greens)
Margaret: An Ethiopian Meal with Misir Wat, Signi Wat, Gomen Wat, and Speedy Injera Flatbread

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Four Easy Ethiopian Recipes for a Fantastic Feast | Kitchen Frau (2024)
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