Tag Archives: Ethiopian recipes

Recipe: Kinche


Kinche is a very common Ethiopian breakfast food, their equivalent of oatmeal, if you will.  It’s incredibly simple, inexpensive, and nutritious.  It is made from cracked wheat, which you can find in any grocery store.  You can boil it in either milk, or part milk/part water.  And in Ethiopia, after the kinche is cooked it is mixed in the pan with niter qibe (clarified spiced butter) or oil and fried onions.  Personally, I skip that step, but only because I make the kinche the day beforehand and Adam heats it up for the kids in the morning.  Very un-Ethiopian of us, from both a culinary and gender-role perspective, but I am literally never conscious while the kids are eating breakfast and Adam is kind enough to get up and feed them in my absence, but won’t do much more than make toast or heat milk in the microwave.  So the kinche with fried onions and qibe is out.  But the kids still eat it and like it.  I bet your Ethiopian kids will, too.


3/4 cup cracked wheat
3 cups milk (or some combination of milk and water)
niter qibe OR oil and finely chopped onions
salt, to taste

Heat the milk and add the cracked wheat.  Cook on low or low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until the wheat is cooked, about 20-30 minutes.
If using qibe: heat the qibe and stir the kinche to mix thoroughly.  Salt to taste.
If using oil and onions: fry the onions in the oil.  Stir in the kinche and salt to taste.


Recipe: Injera Chips

Sour, spicy injera chips

Sour, spicy injera chips

Before we head off for the weekend, I just wanted to share two things.  First of all, check out our kids’ photo, featured over at Anti-Racist Parent under “Gratuitous Cut Kid Pic.”  Second, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these injera chips that I made the other day.  The recipe was given to me by a woman in our local adoption group who has four older Ethiopian kids.  I couldn’t believe how easy they were (they’re nearly impossible to screw up) and it’s a fantastic way to use up injera that is starting to get old.  I literally can’t make them fast enough to keep up with demand.

You will need:


Preheat the oven to 275°.  In a small bowl, combine the oil and berbere in proportions to your liking.  We bought some berbere recently that isn’t particularly hot, so I added at least a tablespoon for every quarter-cup of oil.  Tear a piece of injera in half and arrange it on one baking sheet as shown, and then do the same on a second baking sheet.

This doesn't look very appetizing...but I promise, it comes out great!

This doesn't look very appetizing...but I promise, it comes out great!

Using a pastry brush, spread the oil and berbere mixture onto the injera.  Bake for about 60 minutes (more for really crispy, crunchy chips, less for chewier chips) and allow to cool before breaking into chips.  Repeat.  In the future, I’m planning on getting even more creative with these chips and adding ginger or garlic or other Ethiopian spices.  Yum.

Recipe: Timatim Salad, Timatim Firfir

Timatim firfir

Timatim firfir

This is by far one of our favorite Ethiopian dishes.  We first tried the Timatim Salad last year before our kids came home at a restaurant and loved it.  I immediately tried to find a recipe and came across this.  It was very similar to what we had at the restaurant.  If you want, you can stop here and just use that recipe.

There are two versions of this recipe.  Timatim firfir includes broken up pieces of injera- that’s why it’s called firfir.  The other recipe is the same, but minus the injera- so if you don’t have easy access to an Ethiopian grocery store, just go ahead and make the timatim salad .  Berbere and jalapeño peppers are key ingredients, so no matter how much you use, the salad will have at least a little bit of a kick to it.  But the salad is very flexible and you can alter the proportions to suit your own tastes.  The funny thing is that I actually hate (yes, hate) onions and peppers.  And yet every time I make this recipe, I find myself standing in front of the open refrigerator late at night, devouring the salad straight from the bowl.



1/4 c. canola oil
3 tbsp. vinegar or wine (I’ve used white vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine, really old leftover white wine…the recipe is forgiving.  Use what you have!)
Juice of one lemon (about 2-3 tbsp. bottled juice)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. berbere (I use more, but we like it very hot)


3-4 large tomatoes (or any other kind of tomatoes you have)
1/2- 1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 jalapeño peppers, chopped and if desired, de-seeded for less heat
2 pieces injera, torn into bite-size pieces

Combine the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chopped vegetables (and injera, if making the timatim firfir).  Serve chilled.  Or just eat it the way it is and don’t tell anyone you made it so you don’t have to share.  Whatever works for you… 🙂

Recipe: Gomen (Collard Greens)

Before trying gomen for the first time at an Ethiopian restaurant, I don’t think I had ever eaten collard greens before in my life. I don’t know why- I’m a longtime vegetarian who is unafraid of trying all sorts of more adventurous greens, like kale or swiss chard- but I sure was missing out. To me, gomen is a must-have when I make several Ethiopian stews for dinner. Having a healthy green really seems to balance it all out, taste-wise and nutritionally.

This is a recipe that I have to admit I’ve sort of come up with on my own. By using recipes online, asking Kiddy for her ingredient list and using her cooking methods, and memorizing the flavors from several Ethiopian restaurants, I experimented and came up with the following. Adam thinks it tastes even better than the kind we get at one of our favorite restaurants, and Dawit gets a look of pure delight on his face when he sees me pulling out a big bag of greens as I put away the groceries, so I think the recipe’s a hit. I almost always supersize the recipe to ensure that I get a taste 🙂

On a side note: some Eth. restaurants use spinach instead of collard greens. It tastes good, but Dawit was unfamiliar with spinach when he came to America and I suspect that the substitution is an Americanization and not “authentic.” Stick with the collard greens if you have them at your local grocery store.

Recipe: Gomen

2 bunches of collard greens
1 large onion, chopped
1/3+ c. canola oil (replace some of the oil with niter kibbeh or butter if desired)
minced garlic and ginger (about 2-3 tsp. each, would be my guess. If you’ve read my other recipes, you know how this works)
2 jalapeño peppers, de-seeded and chopped
salt, to taste

Pull off the leaves of the collard greens and discard the stems. Tear the leaves into medium-sized pieces (just small enough to get them into the pot for cooking- you’ll chop them into smaller pieces later) and wash them well under cold water. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to boil and add the greens. Cook for about 10-15 minutes- the greens should change color and soften. Drain in a large colander and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out all of the excess moisture and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

Cook the onions on medium heat until they start to soften and turn translucent, about seven minutes. Add the oil/niter kibbeh/butter and cook for several minutes. Then add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeños and saute for several more minutes. Add the chopped greens and stir well, ensuring that the greens are thoroughly mixed in with the other ingredients. Add salt and cook on medium-low until the greens have soaked in the flavor.

Recipe: Fossolia

Fossolia is a delicious green bean dish. Like many other Ethiopian dishes, there are countless ways to prepare them. Kiddy’s version has a strong tomato flavor, giving it an almost Italian essence. I don’t know if I’ll admit it to her, but I ended up eating the leftovers over pasta and thought it went together perfectly. It’s very easy to make and doesn’t require any special hard-to-find Ethiopian spices, so it’s an ideal recipe to start with if you are new to Ethiopian cooking.


2 onions, chopped
1/3 c. canola oil
3-4 oz. tomato paste (about 1/2 of a 6 oz. can)
4 cups green beans, ends snapped off and cut or snapped into halves or thirds
3 carrots, cut into stick-shaped pieces
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
minced ginger and garlic (as much or as little as you’d like- I use about 2 tsp. each)
salt, to taste

Start by cooking the onions on medium heat for about seven minutes, or until the onions begin to turn translucent and soften. Add the oil and continue cooking for several more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and allow several minutes for the ingredients to simmer together. Add the green beans and carrots, stir well, and cover. Continue cooking on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then add the tomato, ginger, garlic, and salt, and simmer until all of the vegetables are tender.

Recipe: Missir Wat

Missir wat is a hearty lentil dish with a rich berbere flavor. This is a great dish to bring along to a potluck or family gathering. It’s a nice introduction for newcomers to Ethiopian cooking, easily doubles for a large crowd, and is one of the easiest recipes to make. And at around $3 per batch, it’s inexpensive. You can turn the heat up or down by adjusting the amount of berbere to your liking. I make it pretty spicy because that’s our family’s preference (even at age 2, Sula can take it like a champ!) but if you aren’t too keen on heat, definitely limit the berbere to a tablespoon or so the first time you make it. The recipe below could easily feed six. Before starting, take a look at this post that explains the basics of Ethiopian cooking- much of it applies to a recipe like this.

3 onions, chopped
1/2 c. oil
2-3 tbsp. berbere
1/2 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 c. water, plus extra on hand
2 c. split red lentils, rinsed well
minced ginger and garlic (about 1 tbsp. each)
salt to taste

In a large stock pot, cook the onions on medium/medium-high heat for several minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the oil and cook for a few more minutes before adding the berbere. Add the berbere and allow the ingredients to simmer together for several minutes (berbere should always have plenty of time to cook before other ingredients are added- Kiddy told me about a word,”kulait,” for a sort of uncooked/raw flavor of berbere that wasn’t allowed to cook through all the way. I know what she means and it’s important to avoid it). Add the tomatoes and several spoonfuls of the tomato juice and stir. Then add three cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the rinsed lentils and stir to combine all the ingredients. Turn the heat to low-medium and simmer, but keep a close eye on the lentils- if the liquid has been absorbed before the lentils have softened, add more water as needed and continue cooking on low heat. Add the ginger and garlic and salt, stir well, and continue simmering until the lentils are completely tender.

Recipes: Shiro Alecha and Shiro Wat

When we were in Ethiopia we had very few opportunities to explore the city, but I did make sure I stopped into a grocery store. I purchased several kilos of spices, powders, and other unfamiliar substances with the idea that a) whatever the stuff was, I could learn how to make it, and b) it would be a lot cheaper to buy it in Ethiopia than in America. Among my bags of mystery goods were two types of shiro: plain shiro and mit’in shiro. Shiro is a flour made from ground legumes. It is not entirely clear what kind of legumes- I have heard chickpeas, fava beans, and split peas are all possible ingredients, although it seems like the menus at the Ethiopian restaurants we frequent say it’s made from chickpeas. Mit’in shiro is just like plain shiro except it already has spices added and thus has an orange color. Mit’in shiro (used to make shiro wat) is hot, but shiro alecha is mild. Adam prefers shiro wat, but I love both versions; it just depends on what you’re in the mood for!

You might notice that the recipes are virtually identical. The only difference is that the wat recipe calls for tomato paste where the alecha recipe calls for turmeric. And I use a hot pepper to add a little bit of flavor at the end of the alecha. That’s it; otherwise, the recipes are the same. If you go to an Ethiopian restaurant, check out the menu- many offer the same dishes with the choice of wat or alecha (misser wat/misser alecha; doro wat/doro alecha; etc.).

Shiro Wat

1 onion, chopped
1/2+ cup oil
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2-3 c water
3/4 c mit’in shiro
minced ginger and garlic
salt, to taste
**see Notes

Cook the onions dry in a large, stirring frequently, for several minutes on medium/medium-high heat. When the onions have softened, add the oil. When the oil has heated through, add the tomato paste and mix well. Wait a few minutes, add 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add the shiro slowly and stir briskly (preferably with a whisk) to remove any lumps. Add more water or oil as needed to achieve the right consistency (see Notes below). Add the ginger and garlic and stir. Add salt if you desire.

You can tell when the shiro is ready when it gets very thick and pops (careful, it can get messy!). The oil will also separate and rise to the top.

Shiro Alecha

1 onion, chopped
1/2+ cup oil
1 tbsp turmeric
2-3 c water
3/4 c shiro
minced ginger and garlic
salt, to taste
1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin strips (optional)
**see Notes

Cook the onions dry in a large, stirring frequently, for several minutes on medium/medium-high heat. When the onions have softened, add the oil. When the oil has heated through, add the turmeric and mix well. Simmer a few minutes, then add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the shiro slowly and stir briskly (preferably with a whisk) to remove any lumps. Add more water or oil as needed and continue cooking. Add the ginger and garlic (I actually measured the other day and I used about 1 tbsp. of each) and salt, if desired, and stir.

You can tell when the shiro is ready when it gets very thick and pops (careful, it can get messy!). Add the pepper before serving.

NOTES: I have not had to purchase shiro or mit’in shiro in the U.S., but I will have to eventually when my stock runs out. You can buy it online (fyi, the sites I’ve come across spell it mitten shouro, in case you are looking), but your best bet is to find an Ethiopian grocery store in your area or just stock up like crazy when you’re in Ethiopia. You can substitute a pureed tomato for the tomato paste in the wat. I use a lot of turmeric in the alecha because I love it, but you might want to cut back the first time you try it if you’re unsure. Same with the ginger (you can use powdered if you don’t have fresh) and garlic- I can never have too much of either of those, but I know not everyone feels the same way. The most important thing to pay attention to when making shiro is the consistency. It should be smooth and thick, but not too thick. Definitely something you would eat with a spoon (or, obviously, injera!!) and not a fork. Make sure that no lumps remain- Kidist and I had a funny shiro-making experience a few weeks ago when it came out very lumpy for some reason we couldn’t figure out. She was horrified; apparently, lumpy shiro is a telltale sign of an inexperienced cook in Ethiopia 🙂 So just whisk like crazy when you’re adding the shiro, and add water or oil to smooth it out if it’s getting too lumpy or thick.