Ethiopian Cuisine: Vegetarian

 

FOOD HISTORY AND KITCHEN STAPLES

Ethiopian cuisine has a rich history. Though the country is geographically separated from most of Africa due to its mountain ranges and elevation, trade with the Middle East, Asia and the Mediterranean is what quintessentially helped to develop its cuisine. These “exchanges” gave way to chili peppers, ginger and exotic spices. Ethiopian cuisine is full of flavorful stews and sauces. It is renowned for injera bread, or sourdough flatbread that is made from teff. Injera is pancake-like and is used as a utensil with the right hand.

Berbere is a kitchen staple which is composed of chili peppers and more than 20 herbs and spices such as coriander, cumin, fenugreek, garlic and ginger.

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THE BOUNTY

Ethiopia has a tempered climate. One look at this plate and one can see the colorful bounty of its cuisine. This photo was taken at Bunna Cafe which is a vegan restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Food is served communal style along with injera.

The dishes comprised from above are:

Gomen – steamed collard greens with garlic, ginger and onion

Shiro – ground chickpea flour with split peas, garlic, ginger and herbs

Yaterkik Alicha – yellow split peas with red onion, turmeric, ginger, garlic and herbs

Misir Wat – red lentils with berbere sauce

Keysir Selata – a salad of sauteed beets, carrots and potatoes

Kedija Selata – kale salad with lime, peppers, avocado and olive oil

Yatakat Alicha – cabbage, potatoes, carrot and turmeric

Fossolia – green beans, onions, tomato paste, tomatoes, carrots, ginger and garlic

A TOAST

In October of 1938, my Polish grandparents took a cruise from Europe to Ethiopia for their honeymoon. I’m certain they must have tried tej, a dessert wine made from fermented honey known as mead. This wine is also traditional in Poland. Cin cin!

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