February 2024 COTM - ETHIOPIA

Welcome our February COTM, ETHIOPIA, by Yohanis Gebreyesus.

Use this thread for reporting on the recipes you cook from the book. If you are the first to report on a recipe, post it as a reply to this post. If someone else has already posted a report on that recipe, post your report as a reply to theirs. To help us differentiate the reports from other discussion, please put the recipe name in ALL CAPS. Include the page number if you are working from a hard copy.

Please do not include verbatim text from the recipe. You are welcome to list ingredients and give a summary in your own words of the technique.

For a list of all our previous selections, please visit the COTM archive.


Yay! Ethiopia finally!

The ebook is on sale:


I do hope more people than voted participate — I didn’t vote, but I’m excited!

My favorite Ethiopian dish of all is in the book — Yebeg Alitcha / Alecha, lamb stewed with aromatics that include plenty of onion that softens into a gravy. It’s mild, buttery, and delicious with many carbs, not just injera — rice, bread, chapatis / parathas, I usually just eat what’s at hand with it.

I was disappointed when I originally got the book (so long ago!) thay he does not include a recipe for my other favorite, because it’s quite hard to find: Butecha / Buticha. My favorite local restaurant always had it as one of the dishes on their platter, but I haven’t seen it at many other places.

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Is this the dish you are thinking of? I found these in Eat Your Books. I own Teff Love but not the other three books.

from Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking by Kittee Berns

from Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet by Terry Hope Romero

from Ethiopian Cookbook: Traditional Ethiopian Recipes Made Easy

from Enebla: Recipes from an Ethiopian Kitchen by Luladey Moges

  • Categories: Quick / easy; Main course; Ethiopian; Vegetarian; Vegan
  • Ingredients: yellow onions; garlic; ground turmeric; jalapeños; shimbra duket
  • Accompaniments: Ethiopian sour flatbread (Injera)
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Yes! Thank you @Madrid! It actually took me a while to figure out the name even :rofl:

I’ve followed YouTube videos, but I haven’t gotten it “right” yet. (It’s actually very similar to an Indian dish called Pithla which I also love.)

I’ll see if k can find one of those books at the library.

I highly recommend Teff Love. I haven’t made the butecha, but I have cooked a ton from that book, and it is excellent. One of my most heavily-stained cookbooks.

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Was able to get the ebook fro the library.

But no use because I have run out of onions and more, so no Ethiopian cooking for me till I make a trip to the store :joy:

I may jogger some faux injera batter in the meantime.


While I’m waiting for my teff starter to come back to life (it’s almost there) and for time to do a more complex meal with injera and the works, I thought I’d get started with some simple recipes that can stand on their own. This lentil soup uses beef jerky as a substitute for the Ethiopian dried beef (quanta). Vegan jerky exists, and seemed like it would work well here. I used Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. maple bacon flavor (I wanted to use black pepper flavor, but Earth Fare was sold out).

This is a really simple recipe, but I did run into an issue with the editing. You cut the jerky into bite-sized pieces, and then you are to toss with a bit of oil and… well, the recipe instructions say mitmita, which doesn’t appear on the ingredients list. The headnote says the dried beef is rubbed in berbere, which does appear on the ingredient list, with no amount given. Well, I read the recipe instructions before reading the headnote, so I used mitmita (I used the version from Teff Love, which I already had made up). But then reading further through the instructions, I realized that the berbere in the ingredient list never gets mentioned. So I’m sure the mitmita was a mistake. But grrrrr. Not a great way to start off with a book.

You are supposed to sauté the seasoned jerky in some oil, then move it to a plate. The idea is that you will add it back later, and it will retain more chew than it would if it simmered in the soup. I went my own way here, and did simmer the jerky with the soup, so I sautéed the jerky, and then added the onions. At this point, I also added the berbere. As mentioned above, there was no measurement given for the berbere, so I used 2 tablespoons. I did not use the blend in the book, I used some I already had made, which was a tweaked version of Bryant Terry’s. And I used 2 tablespoons, because that is how much I happened to have. You then add lentils and some passata, followed by a mix of stock and water. Simmer until the lentils are done. While the soup is cooking, you shred some leeks and fry them until crisp. When the soup was about ready, I tasted and decided I wanted more berbere in there. So I added another tablespoon, this time using the blend in book. I also had to add a little more liquid to the soup as it cooked. Serve up the soup with the fried leeks as the garnish. We had some bread on the side (not injera).

I hope the editing issue I ran into here is not indicative of the book. Even without that, the lack of any indication how much berbere to use is… well, not exactly a red flag, but maybe yellow. Still, we really liked the soup! The soup is simple, so the berbere is doing the heavy lifting here. The jerky still had plenty of chew and added some heft and textural contrast. The leeks didn’t do much for me, tbh.


Seems like an editing blip.

Re berbere amount, though he has quantities on other recipes, it really does depend on your berbere composition I think – I’d find it hard to follow a recipe’s quantity on that, as on chilli powder, for the same reason, ie that it really depends on the heat of one’s own.

My batter took TWO DAYS to ferment :woman_facepalming:t2: – and that’s even after sticking it in the IP on yogurt setting because it’s so cold here rn.

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Alicha / alitcha / alecha is my favorite Ethiopian preparation, so I’m always happy to try making it at home. It’s a very simple preparation – there are no spice mixes involved, just aromatics, a pinch of ajowan (ajwain / caraway), and turmeric for color.

This was easy and flavorful dish. I don’t like ajwain, so I skipped it. I’ve had versions with cardamom or an aromatic spice blend or oil at the end, so I also added some cardamom because I love it.

A quick (pressure cooker for the lamb, easy sauce) and tasty dish. I ate it with faux-injera crepes with leftover sauteed spinach and buticha (chickpea flour salad / paste).

Most Ethiopian recipe videos I’ve watched use a dry-saute method for onions, whereby no fat is applied at the beginning, the onions are slow-cooked till they soften, then other ingredients and oil or niter kebbeh are added. Here, the method is simplified by starting with oil and niter kebbeh, and continuing on. I can’t really tell a flavor difference, but maybe it has to do with how the onions break down. He also uses jalapenos as a garnish at the end, perhaps to leave the dish completely mild, but I’ve always seen them added to flavor the sauce and I don’t mind the heat, so I added them during cooking (and I used serranos).



This is a very simple stew. No spice blends used, no sautéing of aromatics. You cut up some okra and tomato and boil them in water. Add canned kidney beans. While the soup is simmering, you grind up some fresh chiles and besobela (I used two serranos, with their seeds, and my besobela was dried). The chiles and besobela get mixed with peanut butter, and then that is thinned with some of the liquid from the soup, then added to the pot. The corn flour “patties” are actually balls made of cornmeal mush. The recipe calls for fine polenta, but I’m guessing that is because this is a British book. I used stone-ground cornmeal. You boil water, add the cornmeal, and stir quickly because it congeals very fast. You take this thick paste and put it in a bowl, and move the bowl so the cornmeal paste forms a ball (this is easy to do, hard for me to describe). Since there were two of us eating, I divided my corn mixture in half and made two balls, each about the size of a large orange.

The eating instructions are to pinch off bits of the cornmeal balls, flatten them, and use that to pick up the stew. If you do this, you want to have finger bowls at the ready. We gave it a try, but it was messier than we wanted to deal with, so we ended up pinching off chunks of the balls and plopping them into the stew like dumplings.

As for the flavors, I thought it was pretty good, but would have liked something with more complexity. Mr. MM liked it quite a lot as is. The recipe says it serves four. We got two servings with only a small amount of stew left over. We had about 1/2 the cornmeal mush leftover, so that part probably does serve 4.


Time to nominate!

Made cabbage with potatoes, spicy red lentils, and shiro wat/wot. Everything was tasty and different from what I’m used to at my local Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants. Cabbage with potatoes turned out the best and was great, mesir wat/wot was good, and the shiro needed a lot of additional spicing in my hands.


All sounds good! What did you eat it with?

I often end up adding more aromatics and spices to everything too.

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Gtk! Eaten with injera from a local place – have tried to make it from scratch 3x in the past with no success (and the injera around the SF Bay area is great).

Also, since I prepared four dishes (inc pressure cooker doro wat that I can’t recommend), I ended up putting all eight onions in my ninja blender – worked great and a lot of effort saved (plus it’s dishwasher safe).


I have to remember to call the two restaurants nearby to see if they’ll sell me just injera (they wouldn’t in the past).

What went wrong with the doro wat? I just bought chicken for it, and was planning to use a PC too.

(I used a PC for my lamb alecha and it worked fine, but I did cook the aromatics completely first, pressure was to speed up the lamb.)

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The sauce really didn’t penetrate the chicken (legs). The recipe called for a cup of water and I think that 1/4 cup would have been plenty in the pc. Ended up with more of a broth than the thick sauce that I’m used to eating.

Next time, I’d instead make enough sauce to fully submerge all of the chicken I was cooking in the pc. Maybe also put the onions and seasoning through their own separate round of cooking in the pc before adding some liquid and the chicken. Berbere seems to take a lot more cooking to remove the harsher raw and spice tastes compared to other spice mixes I’ve worked with.


I was just reading the recipe again, and he cooks the sauce a bit, then adds the slashed chicken for a bit, then takes it out and cooks the sauce down for a much longer time.

I usually cook the sauce 3/4 of the way, then add the chicken, and when the chicken is done if the sauce still needs a bit more time, I remove the chicken.

Agree on the water part re PC, always have to cut back by a lot.

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I might try Canjeero in place of the faux-injera crepes I was going to make with millet dosa batter. (Remembered this from In Bibi’s Kitchen.)

Probably still millet flour instead of cornmeal, though, seeing as I have the former and not the latter at the moment.

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Found a bunch of recipes online:

Kupe – ​Kidney bean and okra stew with corn flour patties
Grilled Nile perch on a bed of creamy nettles
Fetira be enkulal – flatbread pastries stuffed with egg


Probably the most famous / popular dish at Ethiopian restaurants. (I think “spicy” is a misnomer here — I dropped twice the chilli powder in by mistake and it really wasn’t… plus the spice level is totally controlled by how much cayenne one uses.)

I’ve always found it interesting that this has boiled eggs, as does chicken biryani in India, because it makes the meat go further, but the eggs become a favorite element rather than an economy, because they taste so good in the sauce!

I remarked when I made the Alicha / Lamb Stew earlier that he didn’t start with the traditional method of first sweating the onions down without any fat: here he does, but also offers the faster alternative of sauteeing them in a mix of oil and niter kebbeh.

The rest is straightforward, but broken down into stages. First, the spice paste is cooked down with the onions. Second, the chicken is added and cooked till just done, then removed. Third, the sauce is cooked much longer for all the flavors to meld. Finally, the finishing spice mix is added, the chicken goes back in to reheat, and the boiled eggs are added.

I couldn’t understand why the chicken would be cooked with a sauce that wasn’t considered finished in terms of the spices being fully cooked, so I inverted those steps – I cooked the sauce for a while till the fat separated and the spices were cooked, then added the chicken and cooked till it was done, then added the finishing spices and the boiled eggs.

If one purchases the berbere, this is a very simple dish. (I have all the components, so I mixed it up myself, though I was tempted to just buy it the last time I was at Whole Foods.)

I appreciated the tip to make the paste and let it sit for a while – something in the blend definitely needs time to mellow (my guess is it’s the ajwain and/or the nigella).

The finishing spice mix does make a difference (as with garam masala at the end of an Indian dish) – the cinnamon and cardamom especially bring a sweetness that’s missing until then (long or black pepper is lovely, and cloves would taste like something missing, even though I don’t love them standalone).

Now if I can just figure out what I’m doing wrong with my crepes (never any trouble with dosa, so I know its the proportion of millets in my batter… pretty sure I need to dial that back a lot).

If you make this, double the sauce and the eggs :joy: (I mean… one could probably skip the chicken and just make this a delicious egg curry).