Saturday, May 1, 2010


Awaze is a marinade made by combining berbere, oil, and water or an Ethiopian honey wine called Tej. Tej is tough to get a hold of in the states, so using white wine is the best options here. In addition to berbere and wine, additions can include olive oil, garlic, onion, and additional hot dried peppers. Awaze can be used both as a marinade for meat or vegetables in a dish called shakala tibs, as well as a general side condiment.

¼ cup white wine
3 TBSP berbere (click here for recipe)
3 TBSP canola oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp grated ginger
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
½ tsp Cayenne (optional)
1 TBSP honey (optional)
Salt to taste

Whisk well and chill if not using right away.

African Beet and Carrot Salad

This salad is inspired by beet salads that are common in north and east Africa. It is an awesome stand-alone dish for any occasion, or as part of a big authentic Ethiopian dinner (see dinner menu in the Mesir Wot page, here).

2 pounds beets, whole
4 carrots, halved lengthwise, then cut into 1/3” pieces
A few teaspoons olive oil
A few pinches brown sugar

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 TBSP fresh mint, minced
2 TBSP fresh chives, chopped
1 TBSP whole cumin seeds
2 tsp paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper

2-4 ounces crumbled goat cheese (chèvre)

Preheat oven to 350. Poke holes in the beets and loosely wrap them in tin foil. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil, a half teaspoon brown sugar, and a teaspoon of water oil into the opening of the tin foil before closing and place beets in a baking pan.

In a separate baking pan, toss the carrots and 2 TBSP olive oil for the vegetables. Place both carrots (covered with tin foil) and beets in oven and roast until carrots become soft (about 20-30 minutes) and beets don’t put up too much resistance to a fork (about 45-70 minutes).

Remove vegetables and cool. Once cool, cut beets and carrots into bite-sized pieces.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for dressing and mix well. When you’re ready to serve, toss the vegetables with the dressing. Finally top with the goat cheese or stir it lightly in with the rest of the salad.

This dish is delicious served either hot or cold.

Mesir Wot

**Update: check out my new authentic mesir wot recipe. While the new recipe is more authentic, this one is is just as good with it's brighter, lighter flavor. Take your pick!**

Mesir Wot is proof that vegan food can kick some serious ass if you know what you're doing. These spiced lentils are a vegetarian staple in Ethiopia. So good! Serve with injera and other radical Ethiopian goodies.
Prep time: 1 cocktail

1 cup red lentils
1/3 cup canola oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp berbere (click here for recipe)
¾ tsp salt
a few pinches of chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Injera (click here for recipe)

Combine the lentils with 2 cups of water. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a saucepan pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté until onion becomes a bit transparent. Stir in lentils and all remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. If it’s too soupy, simmer, stirring frequently until you reach desired consistency. Serve hot with injeera.

Operation: Delicious Injera

This recipe took me years to get right. I have never found a cookbook or blog that had a suitable injera recipe. And it took me a long time to perfect the ratios and timing in this recipe. But the endeavor worked: this is the best injera you'll have outside of Africa. Guaranteed.

So what the fuck is injera? It is the traditional crepe-like sourdough Ethiopian flatbread that is served with virtually every meal in that country. It is indispensable in all of my Ethiopian recipes, as well as some from other regions. At meal time, a large piece of injeera is placed on a plate and all the food is ladled on top of it. Additional injeera is served on the side with which diners scoop up their food. Eating utensils are never used; just use your hands!

This recipe calls for teff flour. Teff is an outrageously nutritious Ethiopian grain that can be tough to find. Big natural food stores occasionally sell ground teff and you can order it online. Ethiopian or African markets also often have it. Also, when at the store, make sure you’re buying ground teff. Teff is the smallest grain in the world, so ground and unground look identical. Always double check to confirm the label says “ground” or “flour.”

Note that this is essentially a sourdough recipe and requires you to let the teff and water ferment for three days before preparation.

3/4 cup ground teff flour
2 3/4 cups water, divided
1.25 cups unbleached white flour
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil

Mix ground teff with 2 cups of the water and let stand in a bowl covered with a dish towel at room temperature until it bubbles and has turned sour. This will take about 3 days. The fermenting mixture should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter. And if a bit of mold forms on top, don't worry. Just scoop it off and proceed.

After the teff has fermented, whisk in the salt, white flour, and remaining 3/4 cup water.

Heat a 12-inch or larger skillet (or use a dry non-stick pan) over medium heat and brush a light layer of oil, or, more ideally, spray with a shot of cooking spray. Then proceed as you would with a normal pancake or crepe: Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the hot skillet. About 1/2 cup will make a thin pancake covering the surface of a 12-inch skillet if you spread the batter around immediately by turning and rotating the skillet in the air. The bigger the pan you use, the better. So if you have something larger, use it. Obviously, you’ll scale the amount of batter up or down, depending on skillet size.

Injeera should be thicker than a crêpe, but not as thick as a traditional pancake.

Cook until holes form in the injeera, the top is dry and the edges begin to separate from the pan (about two minutes). Don’t let it turn too brown, and don't flip it over; it is only supposed to be cooked on one side.

Remove from pan by simply sliding or flipping it out onto a cooling rack (using a spatula is not recommended, because the hot injeera often cracks and breaks when you use a spatula) and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, layer wax paper or foil between successive pieces so they don't stick together.

Re-brush pan with oil, if necessary, between injeeras.

Serve at room temperature.