If you love Ethiopian food as much as I do, or even if you’ve never had it before, you need this cookbook. I don’t like to gush (except I do), but it’s one of the best recipe collections to be published in the name of vegan food in probably ever. Trust me, you need this book.
When it comes to Ethiopian cookbooks the shelves in book shops are sparse, so it’s exciting that there’s finally one to grace those ledges. And it’s vegan. Score. Author Kittee Berns demystifies the rich and complex flavours of this popular cuisine with a fun presentation and passion for what she’s doing, and it’s catching. Anyone would be hard pressed to not get enthusiastic about Ethiopian cuisine while cooking from this book.
There are some amazing vegan cookbooks out there that cover a range of topics, preparations, styles, meals, lifestyles, and concepts, and most of them have something to offer to everyone. My argument, however, is that the vegan bible books are dead (they’ve already been written, and done well). I buy fewer vegan cookbooks than I used to because I don’t need another book that ought to be titled something like “Plant Based Recipes For Vegans!” or “Dust Collector” or “Look How Many Pictures of Me There Are in My Vegan Cookbook.” I crave specificity.
Pick a topic, learn all about that topic, and write about it passionately. Props to Kittee for doing exactly that! Teff Love is a breath of fresh air, not just because it’s focussed but because it’s just everything a good cookbook should be. Precise, well tested, unique. She’s a stickler for precision, and it shows. I’ve made a dozen or so recipes from the book so far and everything has been top notch, like restaurant quality kind of good.
I’ve made about a bajillion things from the book, but have only photographed 4% of them (who has time for pictures when food needs to go in my mouth ASAP). It’s also worth noting the lentil based dishes freeze really well, so I’ve had a lot of tasty and simple lunches fitfit or firfir style, with injera mixed in (perfect for frozen or old injera too, which goes a bit brittle and crumbly). Here’s some of what I remember making.
Ye’dubba alicha (roasted butternut squash in a mild sauce). My other half practically lives for butternut squash, so this was a must make, and unsurprisingly ranked as his favourite.
Ye’misser wot be’ingudai (red lentils with mushrooms in a spicy sauce). Of all the Ethiopian dishes, there is something about this spicy lentil stew that always calls to me. I made it with a little less berbere (Ethiopian chilli paste) when I fed my partner, and added more when it came to leftovers by myself. Both were excellent.
Ye’shiro wot be’souf (rich shiro sauce with milk from toasted sunflower seeds). I love shiro, and I love the oil that always comes on shiro, but this blew all other shiro dishes out of the water. I messed up and accidentally didn’t make sunflower milk because I used my super power blender thing for too long and made paste, but it still worked fabulously.
Hirut’s fasolia (braised green beans with carrot and soft onion in a tangy tomato ginger sauce). The best veggie stew. Ginger + tomato = never fail good.
Gomen be’telba (tender stewed collard greens in a nutty, toasted flaxseed sauce). I made this because I thought “ew, gross, flaxseed in anything” and I wanted to be proven wrong. Because seriously. Flax? No. I was proven wrong when I took a bite and fell in love. So if you usually avoid flax because you don’t like the taste of grass clippings then try this for a pleasant surprise.
Ye’ater kik alicha (split peas in a mild sauce). This dish seems to grace every vegetarian platter at every Ethiopian restaurant I’ve visited, but with good reason: it’s great. To me, split peas impart a very mild eggy flavour that can’t be beat.
Azifa (tangy lentil salad). This cold dish is packed with horseradish and lemon zest, which is perfect because I love horseradish but can’t ever think of how to use a whole stick up.
Ye’misser sambusas be’ruz (crispy rice paper pastries with a spiced lentil tomato filling). These parcels are ace, especially when they first come out of the oven. The rice paper is a fun twist on the usual fried pastry (not that I will ever have a problem with fried. I just like variation).
Ethiopian style mac ‘n’ cheesie. The mac and cheese from Papa Tofu, Kittee’s Ethiopian vegan cookzine, always got rave reviews. When I finally got around to making it, I absolutely got the love. I’m glad a version has been included in Teff Love, because ye’qimen zeyet (seasoned oil) belongs in macaroni cheese forever until the end of time. Ok. Woman is smaaaaaarrrt.
You have options! If you live in the UK and want to support a wonderful book business, please consider purchasing from Foyles. Otherwise, Amazon obviously has everything.
- Purchase Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking from Foyles
- Purchase Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking from Amazon
P.S. I am going to Ethiopia next month. No joke. Sorry, Kittee (if you’re reading this), but you’re probably going to get like 716 tweets an hour from me asking what everything is.