Vegan Ethiopian Magic Meal

20 Jan
Diners of the week!

Friday dinner’s is BACK with a vengeance! I am finally done with my grad school applications and realized that, you know, I have friends. So this weekend I invited over some people I know from Amigos de las Americas, a volunteer organization I’ve been working with for about a decade. They’re all wonderful adventurers with great stories, and, more importantly tend to like things like ‘nature’ and ‘vegetarianism’.

Now, because AMIGOS vegetarians have a lot of experience eating in other people’s houses in North, Central and South America while working on development projects (and usually those other people don’t have a ton of extra food to go around) I think they are a little different from other vegetarians because they’ll eat pretty much whatever you put in front of them. That said, when someone says they are “veggie with vegan leanings”, I take them seriously.

And so I present…. a totally vegan Ethiopian feast. Most entertaining part? You lay the ingera (traditional Ethiopian flatbread) on your plate and ladle your stew onto it, then use another piece as a spoon/fork. No silverware needed! I will say, I wasn’t going to make ingera at all because it looked too hard/time-consuming until my wonderful co-worker Jolie suggested just buying some from my local Ethiopian restaurant…. brilliant girl, that Jolie. And I’m pretty sure my hand-purchased bread tasted a lot better than my hand-made would have.

So without further ado, the stews that celebrated international soup day!

Also, these portions could have served eight people.

Green Lentil Stew

• Rinse about 2 cups of lentils then place in a large saucepan with 2 cups of water, 1 large white onion chopped, 6 chopped cloves of garlic, and some generous shakes of red chile. Also add teaspoon, nutmeg, cardamom salt and pepper
• Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until lentils and soft and onions have more or less disintegrated. Stir periodically and add more water if needed.
• Add in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (or red wine, which is what you’re actually supposed to do and cook for 10 more minutes… add more salt and pepper if needed
• …. keep it cooking for another hour or so if you want, but on a simmer. It will make the lentils nice and soft, and you won’t have to think about them!

Sweet Potato Stew

• Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté one large chopped onion, 6 pieces of chopped garlic, and about two inches of chopped ginger for 10 minutes, until onion is a nice golden color.
• Add 3-4 chopped sweet potatoes and one roughly red pepper and sauté for 1 min.
• Add a mix of paprika, allspice, cinnamon, coriander, and some ground fenugreek and fry for 1 minute. Don’t worry about things sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add 1.5 cups of water to deglaze the pan, then add 2 tomatoes, half a cup of lentils, and two big handfuls of chopped green beans. Mix well.
• Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until lentils and potatoes are soft. Stir occasionally. It is even better of you can let it cook on a low heat for an hour or two. Add more water if stew gets too thick.
• Stir in a handful of parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper

Eggplant Stew

• Heat a large non-stick pan (cast iron preferred) over medium heat. Add in 3 smallish red onions (chopped) onions and fry for 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until a nice golden brown. When onions stick too much, deglaze the pan with a splash or two of water.
• Add in 3 chopped cloves of garlic, about an inch of chopped ginger, and a mixture of allspice, pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, paprika, and chile powder (also known as a bastardized version of berbere, which is a real Ethiopian thing) and mix well, until spices are fragrant.
• Add in ¼ cup of margarine. When it melts, add one large carrot (diced) and one large eggplant (thinly sliced). Fry for 5-7 minutes, until eggplant begins to soften.
• Add two tomatoes, about 1.5 cups of water, and two handfuls of chopped green beans and mix well. Bring to bubbling, then loosely cover and let simmer. The lentils will cook in 20 to 30 minutes, but you can cook longer. Salt and pepper to taste.

Happy dining (and soup day!) friends!

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