Ethiopian Night

by on January 23, 2006
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I’ve loved Ethiopian food since I first had it on a visit to Washington, DC, years ago. Ever since then, I’ve looked for Ethiopian restaurants every place I’ve traveled because I never seem to be fortunate enough to live in a place that has one. The closest one to me now is about 3 1/2 hours away in Memphis, Tennessee. When I found that little restaurant, Memphis’s appeal went up considerably!

Since I can’t travel just in order to eat (though I can hardly think of a better reason!), I’ve managed to learn to make some passable Ethiopian-style dishes. Normally, Ethiopian food is served on and with a flat-bread called injera that is unlike any other bread I know. It’s flat, but it’s soft and spongy, not dense like a chapati or a tortilla. The food is served on top of one large injera, while additional injera is eaten with the food. You tear off a piece of injera and use it to pick up and eat a bite of food. It’s brilliant! No utensils to wash!

Making injera at home is time-consuming, but it can be done. On run-of-the-mill nights I almost never go to the trouble. I rarely eat bread and prefer to stick to whole grains, so I serve Berberé Stew, a spicy lentil stew, over brown rice. The seasoning is rich with cinnamon, cloves, and nine other spices. I make up a big batch of the spice mix and keep it on hand to make this quick-cooking dish. It’s simple, but it’s one of my favorite recipes.

Last night I made a new dish to go along with the Berberé Stew. I had fresh green beans, so I decided on Ethiopian Green Beans and Potatoes. I made the recipe mostly as written, but I used 12 ounces of green beans instead of 8 and increased the seasonings a little to compensate. This was a much less spicy dish than the lentils, but its mildness was a good complement. It wasn’t an exciting dish, but I’d have it again.

Now to start planning my next trip . . . .

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1 Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 1:34 pm

If you like Ethiopian food you should visit Toronto – I live downtown and have a choice of about 5 or 6 restaurants all within a 10 minute walking radius of my apartment. Each one is better than the next. We are lucky here!

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2 Elessar Tetramariner September 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Thanks much for reminding me what the name of the spongy Ethiopian bread is called, Susan. I’ve eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto, and had most of the vegetarian topping in a group 10 fellow science fiction fans. No place like it here in Ely, either. Unusual, but very satisfying, experience. The highly spice lentils were a fovrite with me, also (great Hot-Heads think alike!)

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3 Helen April 8, 2011 at 9:30 pm

If you ever make it to Los Angeles, visit Little Ethiopia. There are a ton of great restaurants, but the best (in my humble opinion) is called Rahel, which is–wait for it–VEGAN!!! Rahel serves up an incredible selection of delicious Ethiopian dishes, all prepared without any animal products. Super delicious, super healthy!

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4 Nita Ruggiero June 17, 2011 at 7:42 am

Hi Susan. After reading this post I asked my husband to take me for Ethiopian food – neither of us had ever had it. Wow! I fell in love with it! I made these two dishes for dinner last night and they were even better than what we had in the restaurant – I can’t wait for lunch so I can finish the leftovers. Thanks for the great recipes!

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5 Nichole Bennett May 24, 2012 at 10:16 pm

It’s not an authentic injera recipe, but there’s a “cheater” version I found on vegweb.com…. http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=33346.0 It’s super simple and makes a good substitute when you feel like making Ethiopian food spur of the moment.

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