Ethiopian Wots from Vegan Eats World

As Vegan Mofo was drawing to a close, one of the things that excited me the most was thinking about cracking open some of my newest cookbooks.  At the top of the list – Vegan Eats World.  I’ve written about Terry Hope Romero’s last solo cookbook endeavor, Viva Vegan, many times over on my blog.  In fact, it’s gotten to the point that her name has become synonymous with “Mmm” in my house.  If I’m trying a new recipe and my husband asks who created it, and I say Terry Hope, he’s instantly counting down the minutes until dinner.

Living in a small town after spending many years in a food mecca means that our options have become considerably more limited restaurant-wise.  The downside to that is that I sometimes end up cooking when I’d much rather go out.  The upside to that is that I sometimes end up cooking when I’d much rather go out.  Over the time we’ve been here we’ve saved money by cooking at home, and I’ve become a better cook.  Things that I wouldn’t have bothered to learn how to do if I was still living in Los Angeles have become second nature.

Sometimes when I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner, my husband and I will play “what if.”  What if we were in Los Angeles?  Where would we go for dinner?  Then I base the evening’s meal on that particular craving.  There is one flaw in this game.  Nine times out of ten, David says that he’d eat at Rahel Ethiopian, the all-vegan restaurant in Little Ethiopia.  Well, hey, me too, but unless a person has made spice blends ahead of time and infused oil/vegan butter in preparation, it’s not exactly a quick meal.  (If you’d like to find out more about Rahel, you can read all about it on my review.)

So I took the opportunity when David was out of town for work last week to get started on the spice mix, infused oil, and stews (wots) while he was away.  I figured a home-cooked Ethiopian meal would be a fun surprise when he returned.

First, I followed the recipe in Vegan Eats World for the berbere spice blend, which involved cutting open cardamom pods to use the seeds from inside, toasting cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, peppercorns, and cloves, and grinding it with other spices in the coffee grinder.  (I cut back on the cloves to two instead of six, because I’m not crazy about them.)  In the end I had two standard-sized spice jars filled with berbere for future use!

To make infused oil (niter kibbeh), onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon sticks, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, and cloves went into a pan with oil & vegan butter.  After releasing the flavors into the oil, the contents of the pan are poured through a metal strainer, leaving just the flavorful oil behind.  The oil keeps in the refrigerator for months, meaning that the next time a Rahel urge strikes, I can run to the kitchen instead of  the computer to look up airplane ticket prices.

Terry has several Ethiopian recipes in VEW, and one of them, Cauliflower and Green Beans in Berbere Sauce, is open to variations.  While it’s listed as using green beans and cauliflower, it can be made with any combination of collard greens, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, or carrots.  I decided to make that dish twice – once with collard greens and once with cauliflower and carrots.  It came together easily with all of those signature Ethiopian spices.

For a third stew, I made Seitan Tibs simmered in berbere and wine (seitan tibs w’et).  This dish is made with seitan coriander cutlets, which I steamed instead of baking.  I’d never had anything like this dish at an Ethiopian restaurant since it’s based on a meat dish.  With lots of spices and a long simmer with red wine, this dish has flavors that are reminiscent of French cuisine but with an Ethiopian twist.  Both David and I were blown away by the deep, rich, and complex flavors.  This is a dish that impresses.

For the injera to scoop the wots, I made the injera from Vegan Lunch Box that I’ve made several times, but there is an Ethiopian-style crepe recipe in Vegan Eats World, along with a few more Ethiopian dishes to try in the future.  After stuffing ourselves with injera & wots we were almost transported to Little Ethopia, and we didn’t even have to fight traffic on the 405!  Next step, figure out how to grow my own sun-drenched beaches, palm trees, and mountains, and I’ve got it made!

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  1. says

    Ethopian is a recent discovery of mine, but oh how I love it! I made some injera a few weeks back but need to learn how to make all the other additions. Vegan Eats World is on my Christmas list so hopefully I’ll be able to have a real Ethiopian feast in not too long….

    • Cadry says

      I hope that Santa is good to you! I’ve only just scratched the surface of the offerings in VEW, but I can tell it’s going to be a good one!

  2. says

    I think Ethiopian food must be having a moment – I’ve seen a few delicious Ethiopian recipes around in the last few weeks, and I’d really like to try some! I’ve never had genuine Ethiopian food, but there’s a new place just opened down the road that does vegan stuff – time to polish up my eating irons, I think!

    • Cadry says

      How lucky that an Ethiopian restaurant opened near you! I hope that it’s good! It’s kind of similar to Indian food with the stews and bread for dipping, but the spices take it in a different flavor direction. Still, if you enjoy Indian food, I bet you’ll enjoy it!

  3. says

    Yikes! I guess you DO have to plan ahead to make such amazing spices and oils. I’m lucky to keep my chicken-style seasoning done up. lol All of these things sounded very interesting, despite my never having tasted any Ethiopian food. I’m glad you are willing to experiment and share with us so that we are inspired to create, too. :)

    • Cadry says

      What a sweet thing to say! If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend trying Ethiopian food. The lucky thing too is that often the vegetarian items in non-veg restaurants are in fact vegan, because many places make the niter kibbeh with oil instead of butter.

  4. says

    I like to keep berbere on hand for when the Ethiopian mood strikes. The tibs recipe sounds really interesting, I wanted to test it but I had been cooking way too much seitan around that time so I gave it a miss and tested the other Ethiopian recipes which were all great. It’s been a while since my last Ethiopian feast and your post has me craving it again!

    • Cadry says

      I can’t believe I managed to post about a recipe that you haven’t made! What were the chances? You’ve tried so many things. I heartily recommend making the seitan tibs for your next Ethiopian feast. It was so unusual and absolutely the highlight of the meal. I know what you mean about needing to take a break from seitan sometimes, though. I go through that myself, and coincidentally it usually coincides with my jeans not fitting quite as well as I’d like. 😉

  5. says

    Ethiopian food is one of my favorites — and one that I seldom make for the very reasons you mentioned. Planning ahead to have the spices and oil ready would sure make cooking it easier. I don’t have Terry’s book but I do have Kittee’s, and we’ve made yummy dishes from that little ‘zine. I just have to do what you did and assemble a stockpile of spice blends. Sigh. We have a nearby Ethiopian restaurant attached to a grocery, and they sell injira, so we cheat a little and buy it.
    Nice bowls. :)

    • Cadry says

      I can’t believe I’ve had Kittee’s zine for a long time now, and I still haven’t made anything from it yet. Whenever I see pictures of her Ethiopian-style picnics and potlucks, it makes me wish I could crash it and settle in for some wots & injera! Now that I have some spices and oil on the ready, I need to crack into her tome for sure!

      I so envy you living close to a restaurant/grocery where you can just buy injera that’s already made. After I made the oil, spices, and stews, I was not eager to start on the final step of bread-making. However, it really wouldn’t be the Ethiopian experience without injera!

      Thanks for the compliment on the bowls. As you guessed, they were made by a very local potter. 😉

  6. says

    Vegan Eats World is now on my wish list- every review I’ve read about the book is just amazing. These wots look incredible and I love that Terry included recipes for the spice blends and infused oil. :-)

    • Cadry says

      You won’t be disappointed! I feel like over the years Terry has given me such an education into international cuisines. I look forward to delving into VEW even more! If you get the book, I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing what you make!

    • Cadry says

      Isn’t it wonderful? When we were in Kansas City earlier this year, we made it a point to go to Blue Nile to get an Ethiopian fix!

  7. says

    I’ve been craving Ethiopian like a crazy person lately, it’s been much too long a time since we’ve gone out for it. I’ve contemplated making it at home but I’m not familiar with the recipes so I’m always worried I’ll pick a sucky one. I haven’t fully gone through my copy of VEW yet, I had no idea there were Ethiopian recipes hiding in there (although I should have), I think I now know what recipes I’ll be trying first.

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