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 using Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian spiced butter).

       Ethiopian cabbage stew. Credit: Susan Sampson


1/4 cup (60 mL) Niter Kibbeh
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp (10 mL) or more kosher salt
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) puréed ginger root
4 tsp (20 mL) or more berbere spice blend
1-1/2 lb (750 g) cored green cabbage, cut in pieces (1 inch/2.5 cm)
4 medium carrots (total 12 oz/375 g), cut in chunks (1 inch/2.5 cm)
1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium vegetable stock
medium red potatoes (total 12 oz/375), cut in chunks (1 inch/2.5 cm)
3/4 cup (175 mL) chopped parsley

In large pan, melt Niter Kibbeh on medium heat. Add onion and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes, or until starting to turn golden. Stir in garlic, ginger and 4 tsp (20 mL) berbere 30 seconds. Stir in cabbage and carrots  30 seconds, or until coated. Add stock and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. When stock comes to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes, or until cabbage is softened. Stir in potatoes. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy.

Remove from heat. Stir in parsley. Adjust salt. Adjust berbere.

Makes 6 cups (1.5 L).

Shopping Cart: For this recipe, buy waxy red potatoes, which hold their shape well in stews. Avoid starchy russets, which will fall apart. You will need about half a small head of cabbage.

N is for Niter Kibbeh: Ethiopians often cook with spiced clarified butter, which is called Niter Kibbeh. I make my own.

Tool Time: A kitchen rasp (Microplane) is perfect for puréeing ginger. And since you have it out, use it on the garlic, too.

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.