March 31, 2014

Tikil Gomen

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I can’t get enough of this Ethiopian stew with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. It’s a traditional Lenten dish, but I happily mop it up any time of year with injera (Ethiopian flatbread). It may also be served with rice or healthy cooked grains. I created this wonderful recipe for my third book, The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook. Tikil Gomen is easily cooked as vegan; just switch to vegan margarine instead of butter.

       Ethiopian cabbage stew. Credit: Susan Sampson


1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 tsp (10 mL) or more kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) puréed ginger
2 tbsp (30 mL) berbere spice blend
2 lb (1 kg) cored green cabbage (1/2 medium head), cut in pieces (1 inch/2.5 cm)
4 large carrots (total 1 lb/500 g), cut in chunks (1/2 to 3/4 inch/1 to 2 cm)
4 small potatoes (total 1 lb/500), cut in chunks (1 inch/2.5 cm)
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) water or low-sodium vegetable stock
1 cup (250 mL) chopped parsley

In large pan, melt butter with oil on medium heat. Add onions and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes, or until starting to turn golden. (Do not brown.) Stir in garlic, ginger and berbere 30 seconds. Stir in cabbage, carrots and potatoes 30 seconds. Add water or stock. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Stir 1 minute, or until vegetables are coated. When liquid comes to boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy.

Remove from heat. Uncover and let sit 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in parsley. Adjust salt.

Makes 10 cups (2.5 L).

N is for Niter Kibbeh: Ethiopians often cook with spiced clarified butter, which is called niter kibbeh. You may use this instead of the plain butter.

Shopping Cart: For this recipe, buy yellow-flesh potatoes or waxy red/white potatoes, which hold their shape well in stews. Avoid russets, which are dry and tend to fall apart.

B is for Berbere: This is the signature spice blend of Ethiopia. It may include ground red chili, garlic, ginger, ajwain and fenugreek, and comes in the form of a paste or a dry seasoning. I use the latter. Berbere is also called awaze. Spice shops and Africentric grocery stores sell it. When a stew is made with berbere, it is called a wat. When made with a mixture of warm spices, including nutmeg and cardamom, it is called an alecha.

I is for Injera: No Ethiopian meal is complete without this big, round, spongy, sourdough flatbread made with teff flour. Traditionally, diners tear off pieces of warm injera to scoop up stew, in place of cutlery.

Make-Ahead: Like other stews, Tikil Gomen tastes best the next day.