Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge #2: Ethiopian Classics

by - Sunday, September 26, 2010

Challenge number two for the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog contest is "The Classics". For this challenge, I was asked to create a classic dish from another culture that is outside of my comfort zone. I decided on Ethiopian cuisine. I have had Ethiopian food several times at restaurants but have never attempted to cook any of these delicious foods at home.

So why Ethiopian? Aside from being delicious, Ethiopian food is unique and tends to be less available in restaurants than foods from other regions of the world so fewer people have experienced these flavors. Also, it can be very vegetarian and vegan friendly. I would like to share a few of these things with you!

First, Ethiopian foods are typically served atop injera bread. The injera is a sourdough (fermented dough) bread is made from teff flour that is used in place of eating utensils. Small pieces of the bread are torn off and used to pick up bites of food, traditionally with the right hand.

Did you know...? Teff is the world's smallest grain but it packs a big nutritional punch. It is an excellent source of iron, protein, and fiber. Just one serving (1/4 cup dry) contains 20% of the RDA for iron, 6gm protein, and 6gm fiber (8% calcium too). The lentils and split peas used in many Ethiopian dishes are also excellent sources of protein, iron, and fiber.

Here is what I served for my classic Ethiopian meal:

Injera bread:
I didn't have teff flour, so I processed a small amount of teff grain in my VitaMix to make flour (1/2 cup teff made about 3/4 cup flour).




3 cups self-rising flour (or 3 cups all-purpose flour plus 4 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup teff flour
1 Tbsp dry active yeast
3 1/2 cups warm water

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the water and mix well. Add the water and mix until well combined. Cover and let sit for 3-6 hours (for traditional sourdough, the dough is let rest for 3 days).
  2. After the rest period, stir the dough again to incorporate any liquid that may have separated. Add the dough to a blender 2 cups at a time along with about 1/4 - 1/2 cup water and blend to mix for a few seconds. The dough should be very thin- thicker than crepe batter but thinner than pancakes.
  3. In a non-stick skillet heated over medium heat (no oil), pour the batter 1/2 cup at a time. Move the pan in a circular motion to spread out the batter so that it is no more than 1/8 inch thick. Cover the pan and let the injera cook until it is cooked through (don't flip). Remove from the pan and stack the breads as they are made. They will initially be a little crispy on the bottom but will soften up.


On top of the bread, I served a few different foods:

Misir wat (wat or wot is a stew and misir wat is a common lentil stew that is seasoned with traditional berbere spices):




I made my own berbere using:

¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp allspice
1 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp cardamom
½ tsp coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp cayenne
¼ tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp paprika
1 tsp salt

Squash tibs (tibs are sauteed veggies or meats):


Kik wat (a stew made from yellow split peas):


Sauteed greens (I used turnip):


Put on some Ladysmith Black Mambazo, get out your copy of The Ladies #1 Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, pour the African red bush (rooibos) tea, and dig in...with your hands, of course!



I really love the ceremonious nature of traditional dining in other cultures. I am also fascinated by traditions such as the Japanese tea ceremony. In Ethiopia, one very simple such ritual is goorsha, which is an act of friendship. During a meal, a person might roll a piece of injera bread in sauce and place it in a friend's mouth. The larger the goorsha, the stronger the friendship. Amesege'nallo' (thank you)!


If you have the chance, I encourage you to expand your horizons and give Ethiopian or other new-to-you foods a try. After all, life is too short for frozen pizza!  

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  1. This looks so delicious! Ethiopian is one of my favorites too - so many great vegetarian options! You got my vote :)

  2. I also cooked ethiopian food but I really want to try these recipes too, now. They look so delicious!

  3. Thanks for this... I'll cook it this Sunday...

  4. I'm hungry now! Voted for you. Good luck in the competition.

  5. you even served it properly on the injera! these look really really delicious--better than a lot of the other ethiopian entries i've been seeing. can i come over for dinner?

  6. Your dinner looks delicious! You've taken some of the mystery out of Ethiopian food for me. Good luck in this round!

  7. Thank you everyone! I am grateful for your support!!

  8. Wow! That looks great. I tried making the wot with berbere substitutes, but it didn't taste exactly like the traditional dish. Luckily I found this website that sells Imported Berbere from Ethiopia. I tried this recipe, but with the Berbere and it tasted delicious!

    I got the Berbere at

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Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. I look forward to hearing from you!