Several years ago Mesob, an Ethiopian restaurant, opened in my town, and I noticed that about half of the menu was vegan. Before it’s arrival, I didn’t know that Ethiopian food was “a thing”. I’ll try just about anything vegan, but Dennis didn’t like the sound of it. After hearing someone rave about it at a meetup, I convinced him to give it a try. It was love at first bite, and we were instantly hooked. I once tried to recreate our favorite dishes at home, and failed miserably. (The end result was takeout pizza from Whole Foods.) With its unique spices and sauces, Ethiopian food is one type of ethnic cuisine that’s difficult to cook if you don’t know what’s involved. Fortunately, Kittee Berns has done all of the hard work for us, and demystified Ethiopian cooking in her new book Teff Love.
Teff Love is the ultimate guide to vegan Ethiopian cooking. Kittee starts the book by talking about the basics of this type of cuisine, how to serve it, and the types of spices that are often used. She also includes techniques, time-savers, and tips, to make cooking easier, which is handy for those who are new to this type of cooking. There’s also a grocery list, which I took with me to a local world market when I went shopping for ingredients.
The Holy Trinity of Ethiopian cooking is next up in the book: berbere, ye’qimem zeyet, and injera. There’s some infromation on berbere, which is the key spice used in Ethiopian dishes, including a recipe for make your own berbere paste. Ye’qimem zeyet is the seasoned oil that all of the dishes in Teff Love are cooked with, and it’s a quick recipe to pull together. Injera is the flat bread that’s served with meals in Ethiopia. It’s fermented and it takes days to make, but Kittee’s instructions make it easy to do. There’s also a recipe for quick version of teff crepes for those that don’t have the time to devote to injera.
The recipes in Teff Love include traditional Ethiopian dishes along with some fusion-style recipes. There are wots (a main dish in Ethiopian fare), gomens (dishes with greens), shiros (bean dishes), and much more. I was surprised to find recipes for things such as mac and cheese, hummus, and tofu scramble – all with an Ethiopian twist to them, of course.
I recognized quite a few of the traditional dishes from Mesob and was excited to make myself. One of my favorite dishes is butecha, which is an egg-like chickpea dish. At Mesob, you can order one main dish and two sides, and when I don’t order it as my main, I’ve been known to order two sides of butecha. I guess I’m lucky, because according to Kittee, not too many restaurants in the US serve it. I tried to make it at home once, and but I had no idea what I was doing, and I ended up with a giant mushy chickpea mess on my hands, so I was excited to make it again, this time armed with Kittee’s recipe. It was so easy to do, and it tasted just as good I had hoped. Another favorite is inguadi tibs, and Teff Love has a spicy, equally delicious version. I served both dishes together with Ayib Be’gomen (tender collards mixed with a soft cheese and seasoned oil), and Quick Teff Crepes (which I still need to get the hang of).
In addition to the traditional dishes, I also made Ethiopian-Style Roasted Brussels Sprouts along with Ethiopian-Style Mac ‘n’ Cheesie, which came together for the perfect comfort food meal. Ye’tofu Enkulal Firfir (tofu scramble) and Garlic Jojos (roasted potatoes) made for the perfect weekend brunch.
I did spend a lot of time in the kitchen when cooking from Teff Love, but that doesn’t mean the recipes were complicated or even very time consuming. I made several dishes at once – which is what took up so much of my time – and everything was easy to make. The bonus to all of that cooking was leftovers – I got two meals out of each recipes (three from the mac and cheese!) so there were several days where I didn’t have to cook at all.
I have a copy of Teff Love for one lucky winner! Follow the instructions after the recipe to enter.
- 1 cup teff flour, any variety
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoonsalt
- 2 cups carbonated water
- ⅔ cup unsweetened plain vegan yogurt
- 6 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Preheat a nonstick skillet (see cooking tip) over medium heat. Put the teff flour, chickpea flour, baking soda, and salt in
- a medium bowl and whisk vigorously to combine and to beat out any lumps in the chickpea flour. Add the carbonated water and vegan yogurt and whisk well to combine. When the griddle is hot, whisk in the vinegar to combine. The batter will rise and foam, and the consistency will be thin and reminiscent of chocolate milk.
- Form each crêpe by using a ⅓-cup measure to scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and pour it into a disk on the hot pan. Use a spoon to quickly and lightly smooth the batter into a 6-inch disk, starting in the center and working in concentric circles until you reach the edges (keep the center of the crêpe the thickest and the edges the thinnest; the crêpe should be between ⅛ and 1⁄4 inch thick).
- Cover and cook for 1 minute. The crêpe should be dry on the top with a smattering of little holes over its surface. Uncover and continue to cook the crêpe without turning it for
- to 11⁄2 minutes. The total cooking time for each crêpe should be 2 to 21⁄2 minutes. When fully cooked, the crêpe should be dry on top with a few air-bubble holes, and the bottom should be firm, smooth, and lightly browned. Depending on your cookware and stove, you’ll need to adjust the heat to achieve this result. Use a flat, flexible spatula to loosen and release the crêpe, and then quickly transfer it to a plate and cover with a clean, dry tea towel. Repeat the cooking process until all the batter has been used. As the crêpes are made, stack them on top of each other and keep them covered with the towel so they don’t dry out.
- As they cool, the crêpes will develop a spongy-stretchy texture. Let them rest until they’re room temperature, then wrap the stack loosely in a clean, dry tea towel and seal it in a ziplock bag until serving time. Be sure the crêpes are completely cool or the bag will collect moisture and they’ll spoil. If you notice any condensation, open the bag to air it out.
I have a copy of Teff Love for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight EST on Sunday, March 1, 2015. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck!