Adventures in Ethiopian Cooking

Over the holidays, I got a vegan Ethiopian cookbook, Teff Love, by Kittee Berns, for a present.

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I have loved Ethiopian cuisine since I lived in the Boston area, where I used to go to a restaurant in Cambridge, MA called Addi’s Red Sea. It is a very vegan friendly cuisine. Vegnews recently shared a story that has more about Ethiopian culture and their food and why it’s so vegan-friendly. Check it out here.

At first I only had the time and energy to try the Ethiopian style tofu scramble recipe. I’m pretty sure I could eat that almost every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it. What really makes it is the berbere spice, the signature spice mix for the cuisine…although I’m a baby when it comes to spice and so I reduce it by quite a bit.

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You can get it in the international section of Whole Foods, among other places, I am sure.

One of the best parts of the food is the Injera, the spongy, crepe-like sourdough bread that you eat everything with. It can be used instead of utensils. It’s naturally gluten free (made from teff flour–which inspired the name of Bern’s cookbook). However, it takes up to a week to fully make, which is a bit complicated…but worth it if you can figure it out. If you are pressed for time though, the book has a teff crepe recipe which is really awesome as well.

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Another great aspect of Ethiopian food is that it makes a lot of food, and it lends itself to making multiple dishes and feeding lots of people.

For example, the first time I made it, I gave some to my friend who had just had a baby as part of a meal train.

Here’s a picture she took of her plate:

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And here is one of my favorite pictures of my own plate (one of many):

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Also, my dad happens to work with someone from Ethiopia, who ended up giving me a huge jar of Teff flour! It was very exciting as it’s like hitting the teff jackpot!

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After making a large batch of food for myself and my friend and her family, I made a dish by itself. It is called ye’zelbo gomen be’karot, which is kale with carrots, onions and mild spices. It’s seriously the best kale dish I’ve ever eaten, and that is saying a lot (I love kale) and my whole family loves it.

Speaking of which: yesterday (Wednesday April 7), after spending the weekend in my kitchen making a big feast for Monday, only to have snow (!!!) cancel the class, I served the small college program, College Unbound, who helped me get my bachelor’s degree, the feast as well! I kept raving about the kale dish to everyone, and one student said she doesn’t like kale, but I got her to try it anyways, and she really liked it! Her cousin who was also there, was claiming she might need to contact the local news channel because I had her trying foods she’d never tried before, and she’s usually so picky…which was a big compliment for myself and the author of the cookbook! Here are a few pictures of some of the other students posing with their plates:

Also, the majority of the students had never had Ethiopian food before when we asked. Most people who tried it were not put off by the fact that there wasn’t meat in the dishes, which can happen sometimes when I am feeding large groups (or at least they didn’t say it to my face! haha). I had one person comment to me that the split peas in mild sauce (called ye’ater kik alicha in the book) had a meatlike texture. My friend Domingo, who is pictured in the first picture above, was excited also that I made the vegan Ethiopian style mac and cheesie, because he’s lactose intolerant.

It was a really positive experience for myself and all involved. Especially because I could effortlessly share my love of another culture’s food and share that vegan food doesn’t have to be bland, boring, or leave you craving protein (in fact, the red lentils in spicy sauce, in a dish called ye’misser wot, have 15g of protein per serving, according to Teff Love!). I hope to do it again soon.

And I can’t recommend the cookbook Teff Love, enough!

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Salad of the week: Thanksgiving Salad!

Okay, so I have to admit I have been making so many pumpkin things lately I’m starting to get a bit pumpkin’d out.

Today for my Salad of the week I made a salad that reminds me of those thanksgiving sandwiches. The ones with like, leftover Tofurky, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and whatever. It doesn’t have stuffing in it unfortunately. But it still tastes super good with breaded vegan chickun patties (I used a cut up Boca patty).

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I made my own creamy poultry seasoning dressing as well. It sounds weird but it tastes pretty good all together!

Here’s what I did:

To make the dressing: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lite silken tofu (the kind that is refrigerated in a pack like regular tofu, not the small vacuumed pack Nori Nu kind
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp vegan poultry spice/seasoning blend (or make your own…there should be tons of them if you google it)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and pulse until fully combined. You can adjust seasoning to your liking as you go or afterwards as needed.

To make the salad:

Ingredients:

  • Lettuce (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp jelly cranberry sauce (the kind I found at my local grocery store IS vegan…but here is a recipe from a vegan blog if you cannot find that near you, or prefer to make it from scratch)
  • Vegan chicken or turkey cut into pieces (You can use whatever! Would be good with leftover Tofurky roast, or Tofurky slices, but I used Boca fake chicken breaded patties to give it a breaded kind of flavor reminiscent of stuffing)
  • 1/8-1/4 cup pecans
  • As much dressing (above) as desired.
  • Roasted butternut squash chunks (Optional)

Directions:

It’s kind of obvious! Make a salad with these ingredients! I found that this was one of those salads that taste extra good when you really mix up the ingredients well instead of leaving them separate. Sometimes I want to put my salad dressing on before I finish putting all the ingredients together, but I always refrain because then everything gets too soggy.

I haven’t tried it with the butternut squash yet but I think it will be amazing and am going to roast it now and put it in tomorrow! Yum!