March 31, 2014
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Ethiopian 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 you can happily mop it up any time of year with injera (Ethiopian flatbread) or serve it with rice or grains. I created this wonderful recipe for my latest book, The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook. It is easily cooked as vegan.

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

In large pan over medium heat, melt butter or vegan margarine with oil. 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 and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Stir 1 minute, or until vegetables are coated. When liquid comes to boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy.

Remove from heat. Uncover and set aside 10 minutes to thicken slightly. Stir in parsley. Adjust salt.

Makes 10 cups (2.5 L), or 4 to 6 servings.

  • Ethiopians often cook with spiced clarified butter, called niter kibbeh. If desired, you could substitute it for the butter.
  • Use yellow-flesh potatoes or waxy potatoes, which hold their shape well in stews, rather than russets, which are dry and tend to fall apart.
  • Berbere, also called awaze, 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. You can find berbere in spice shops and Africentric grocery stores. 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.
  • Injera is a 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.
  • Like other stews, Tikil Gomen tastes best the next day.

Credit: Susan Sampson
Tested in Imperial