Saturday, 24 August 2013

Ethiopian Fasting Food Feast for Fertility

It tastes so much better than it looks
I had a sweet potato and thought a red-lentil curry was in order for dinner, but I make variations on that dish all the time and kind of wanted something different.  As I was surfing around looking for a twist, I came across a blog post for an Ethiopian sweet potato and red lentil curry which reminded me how much I loved Ethiopian food.

I first tried Ethiopian food when I was still new to San Francisco.  I don't remember what we ordered, but it didn't make any impression on me.  The second time I tried Ethiopian food was about eight years later.  When my good friend from New York wanted me to meet his new girlfriend in London, she selected an Ethiopian restaurant around the corner from where I was living in South London. Given she'd been to Ethiopia, Oliver and I let her order for all of us.  She ordered a vegetarian platter served on injera and it was DELICIOUS.

Several years later when Mr Duncan and I were in Ethiopia with the Landy and I was still vegetarian, all I ordered at restaurants was the fasting food.  In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, there are two days of the week where it is forbidden to consume animal products, so for those two days and certain religious holidays eg Lent, everyone eats the vegan fasting food.  Fortunately for me most places served the fasting food dishes every day of the week.  I certainly wasn't going to eat kitfo, although Mr Duncan seemed to like it.

I do plan to learn to be able to plan three days ahead and make my own injera one day, but not while there is a good Eritrean restaurant a 15 minute walk away that sells injera for 80p a pop.

So my dinner plan was decided.  I'd make an Ethiopian Fasting Food Feast with sweet potato and lentil stew, that cabbage/potato dish I remembered and something salad-y with tomatoes.  I only wish I had some dark leafy greens to make the collard dish.

expiry date only 2011
It took a while to find some appropriate recipes but I'm pleased with how it all turned out and especially happy that as I was reaching into the cupboard for dried chilli to make up a berbere spice mix, I discovered a packet of berbere spice that had been given to me as a gift some time back.  Bonus!

I'm going to have to buy a tray big enough to fit injera, as I had nothing on which to serve the meal but my largest chopping board - which barely sufficed.

Fertility Focus:
  • Injeera is made with teff flour. Teff is gluten free and a good source of iron, calcium, and b vitamins not to mention protein and fibre.
  • Cabbage is antioxident and also contains a phytonutrient called Di-Indole Methane that helps with metabolising estrogen effectively.
  • Cumin is considered good for uterine health in Ayurvedic medicine.
  • Turmeric is good for stabilising blood sugar levels which helps with managing weight and hormone balance.
  • Sweet Potato is full of antioxidants, vitamin C and Vitamin A as well as being a source of potassium, calcium and iron.
  • Tomatoes are full of the antioxidant lycopene which boosts sperm health and also contain folate, B6, vitamin A and vitamin E.
  • Lentils are a good source of folic acid, full of iron and provide a non-meat form of protein.
  • Home made Chicken Stock or any bone broth is recommended by TCM for nurturing fertility.

Misir Wat - Red Lentils and Sweet Potato Curry

After reading their post on the basics of Ethiopian cooking, I adapted The Berbere Diaries recipe for Misir Wat.  I used WAY less oil (coconut), fresh tomatoes and added chopped sweet potato.  I also used chicken stock instead of water, which is completely wrong if you're Ethiopian Orthodox, but totally okay if you're eating for fertility.

Tikil Gomen - Caramelised Cabbage with Carrot and Potato

I looked at lots of recipes for the cabbage and potato dish and finally settled on this one from Once again, I cooked the onions before adding the oil, used less oil, increased the spices and added finely chopped ginger and garlic as recommended in the comments.  I didn't bother grinding my cumin because I'm lazy like that.  I also added a seeded jalapeno pepper in to sweat with the rest of the ingredients and removed it before serving as I saw done on a video recipe I ultimately decided against following (due to the deep frying it required).

I really liked the outcome and will probably make this dish again as a side dish for other, non Ethiopian meals.

Timatim Salad

I wanted something a bit cooler to counter the heat in the Wat dish, so whipped up this tomato salad with lemon and some more jalapeno pepper from the freezer.  It wasn't until we were half way through dinner I realised I completely forgot to include the onion.  I didn't have red onion anyway and would have substituted yellow.  It didn't matter.  I especially liked the taste of the lemony tomato liquid when it soaked through the injera.

Despite the fact I heavily reduced the volume of ingredients in each of the above recipes, I still made enough food for an army, so I've set aside portions for dinner tomorrow and frozen the remainder for the future.

Which reminds me, it appears Mr Duncan is practicing his bad Dad jokes in anticipation of live offspring one day...
Me:  There's enough food here for an army...
Mr Duncan: Just as well I have two then.
Me: ?
Mr Duncan:  One up each sleevey...


  1. I think I am your new favorite follower. LOVE your writing and wish I had someone cooking me Ethiopian food tonight. I've been to one good Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle and it isn't anywhere near where we live.

    Sadly when I was in London (several years ago) I had some bad food luck with the exception of the few Indian food places we hit up.

  2. I love Ethiopian food! I was introduced to it a bit ago by my friend who was a missionary in East Africa. We are also very lucky in the state of Minnesota because we have a large population of Ethiopians here. So we have a few Ethiopians restaurants to choose from. I think I'm due for a visit to one of them. Thanks for sharing the recipes. I'm definitely going to try making the Misir Wat and Tikil Gomen at home. Though the injeera is too much work I think (I'm a lazy cook!).

  3. I've never tried Ethiopian food before. Guess there's no time like the present to get busy and try it, huh?


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