Ethiopian Night

Once again I find myself being grateful for the Celiac diagnosis. Not for the disease I should clarify but for the diagnosis. Had we not needed to change the way we eat we wouldn’t have had such a cool dinner today. A few weeks ago Ron saw on TV a program that talked about Teff. It is a gluten free grain which happens to be really nutritious. It is a mainstay of the Ethiopian diet. From Teff they make a bread called injera. He thought it looked good so he went ahead and ordered 25 lbs of the whole grain AND 25 lbs of the flour without even running it by me and without even ever trying the stuff. I guess he has some confidence in my abilities in the kitchen. Anyway, it arrived last Friday. It is really good. It is mild and I think the closest thing to wheat that we have tried yet. So then I started looking for recipes for injera. It sounded pretty simple but lots of people mentioned it being really hard to make. I can’t imagine why. Here is the recipe: 1 1/2 cups of teff flour, 2 cups of water. That’s it. You mix it up and cover it with a dishcloth and let it sit on your counter for 2-3 days to let it ferment. Then add salt and pan fry it like a thin pancake. Fermenting is supposed to be really good for you but I have never done it before. I started it Friday and we had it today. We really liked it. It was like a sourdough pancake or crepe. Along with the injera I made 2 other Ethiopian dishes. I have to confess, I thought Ethiopian cuisine was probably not much more than a timber float (glass of water with a toothpick). Boy, was I wrong. It was unique and wonderful. I was pretty impressed that I even had everything in the house to make it. Here are the recipes.


1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon whole nutmeg freshly grated
1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon whole allspice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup paprika
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper (I have kids so used 1/8 t)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 cup water

In a cast-iron skillet, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice over low heat. Do not burn; this should only take a minute or so. Set aside to cool. Then grind in spice grinder.
Combine the spices, onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and 3 tablespoons water in a small jar of a blender and blend until smooth.
Combine the paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of salt in the skillet and toast over low heat for a minute or so. Stir in the water, 1/4 cup at a time. Then stir in the blended mixture. Stirring vigorously, cook over the lowest possible heat for 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the berbere to a jar, packing it in tightly. Let the paste cook to room temperature, then cover with a film of oil. Store in the refrigerator between use.

Beef Stewed in Red Pepper Paste (Sik Sik Wat)

2 onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons Berbere
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3 lb. lean boneless beef, cut into 1″ pieces
Black pepper

In a large stewpot, cook the onions over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and dry. Do not let brown or burn.
Add the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Stir well. Add the berbere and stir for 3 minutes. Add the wine, water, tomato sauce, and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beef and turn the pieces around in the sauce to coat. Cover the pot and simmer the beef for about 1 hour over low heat. Season with black pepper.

Alecha Wats

1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoons berbere
2 carrots peeled and cut into 3cm slices
2 green bell peppers, de-seeded and quartered
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup
passata (tomato sauce)
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 potatoes cut into thick slices
1 tomato blanched, skinned and cut into 8 wedges each
1 small cabbage cut into wedges
salt and pepper

Add the oil and onions to a large saucepan and fry until the onions have softened, add berbere, fry for a minute then add the carrots, green peppers, water, tomato sauce, salt and ground ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes before adding the potatoes and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes before adding the cabbage. Season to taste and cook until the vegetables are completely tender (about 25 minutes).

As I said this was unique and very good. Even Sage ate 2 bowls. We made it fun by eating on the floor Ethiopian style and we were going to do it without utensils too but I just couldn’t. Too messy. Traditionally Ethiopian food is eaten without utensils. The injera is folded in quarters and used to scoop up your meal. The girls got quite a kick out of this. It was fun. We will definitely do it again. I also have leftover Berbere so I need to find some more recipes to use it in. I feel pretty fortunate to have a husband who is almost as adventuresome as I am when it comes to trying new foods.


5 thoughts on “Ethiopian Night

  1. There is an Ethiopian restaurant here (actually, just a block from Pagolac) and it is really good. I went with a friend and we didn’t have a clue what to order, so we told them to bring us something. I loved that bread/crepe/panacake thing and we ate with our fingers.


  2. OH, Oh, Oh! I know what my son and I will be making soon! We try to do ethnic when my hubby is gone (he is not very adventurous) and since he’s trying GF now as he has migraines, dry eyes, sore elbows and sinus problems they can’t find a reason for, I’m doing GF for him now. Anyway, he used to live in Bloomington, IN and they have tons of ethnic restaurants and Bismarck, ND doesn’t have much but franchise restaurants and a couple Italian. So we’ve been doing Indian, Thia, middle East (plav and Kefta with GF naan..which was great). I also made a really good Vegetable Beef soup that was seasoned with Garam Masala and cayenne pepper a little kosher salt, bay leaf and garlic. YUM, we thought next time, add rice. If not for the bread thing, GF cooking isn’t hard. Baking is more challenging and time consuming. Wonder where I can find fenugreek?


    • I too love ethnic food. I would rather have almost have anything ethnic over American. I found fenugreek at the asian grocery store. Your veggie beef soup sounds good. I wouldn’t have thought to season with garam masala. YUM. I need to make injera again. I should do some to post here…. Severely short on time though. Can you tell? It took me forever to respond to this. Sorry.


      • Just glad to have your blog. Thanks for all the info. I’m not GF but my daughter is and my son is trying it. So far he’s not seeing any difference. My daughter is married and lives 650 miles away but I am taking this as my challenge. GF cooking/baking is a challenge. I can make something and it’s great and the next time is terrible. I’m not sure what is up but I have to figure this out. Next up, she wants hamburger buns.


      • Have you seen my recipe for hamburger buns? They are pretty awesome if I do say so myself.
        Speaking of successes and failures I had such an epic failure in the kitchen this week that I think I am actually going to write a post on it with pictures included. It was so bad I could do nothing but laugh. So five years in I still fail from time to time. Such is GF baking. That is really awesome that you have taken on this challenge. Most wouldn’t.


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