Ethiopian might be my very favorite cuisine to consume. I can still remember the first time I had Ethiopian, sitting on the floor in the middle of packed hole-in-the-wall in Washington D.C., slightly drunk on honey wine, looking at my friends quizzically as they tore injera and dug in, and dumbfoundedly asking where my fork was. It was love at first bite. Many, many years later I am lucky to live in a city that has a few proper (and amazing) Ethiopian restaurants.

spices_afterIt’s a cuisine with a very unique and intriguing flavor profile. And, in truth, in ten years of trying to make Ethiopian at home, it just is never the same as it is when made by Ethiopians. Though, I’m told by a few of them, it has to do with some spices they import to use in the restaurant from their homeland that you cannot buy in the states (or, rather, can’t buy unless you live in a large urban area with an Ethiopian market, which I do not). I’m pretty sure they may just be trying to make me feel better. But, the stuff I make at home is lick the bowl good, so I’m not terribly upset about the situation (but, as a spice junkie, I do wonder about the gesho and if it’s worth ordering and paying to have it shipped, amongst other things).


ethiopian veggies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Spice blend (this is the important thing, once you make this you can use it to make any veggie dish, essentially, “Ethiopian”, it’s a take on Berbere)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (in the photo, mine is already roasted)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seed
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seed
  • 4 small dried chills (or two fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh gingerroot or ½ teaspoon dried ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
For the veggies
  • 1 T oil
  • 2 lbs of whatever veggies you want to cook, I like a blend of onion, carrot, cabbage, and potato
For the spice blend:
  1. In a small sauté pan, over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom seeds, peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, and coriander seeds until fragrant (about four minutes).
  2. Place all toasted spices into a coffee grinder or blender (along with all other spices on the list and the chili peppers) and blend until incorporated.
For the veggies:
  1. Chop all of your veggies, being sure any of the longer-cook veggies (like onion, carrot, potato) are all diced small and about the same size so they will cook in an equivalent time.
  2. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of your spice blend to the oil and cook for one minute.
  4. Add veggies and cook until tender over medium heat.
Alternatively, you can toss everything in a Dutch oven (spices, oil, and veggies) and bake, covered, for about an hour at 325 (or until all veggies are fork-tender).