Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Eating the Ethiopian Eats from "Teff Love"

Have you heard the exciting news about my friend Kittee's book Teff Love? It was chosen by VegNews as the cookbook of the year! I am so happy for her! 

My favorite picture of Kittee ever

I first met Kittee online when we started reading each other's blogs. That was so many years ago. Like maybe 9 years ago? Then, in 2009 I went to New Orleans to take a 10-day course on the Yoga Sutra. I didn't know anyone else in the program, and I was staying at a little inn by myself. But, I did know Kittee, who was still living in NOLA at the time. So, we arranged to meet up, and within seconds, we were friends for life. We baked king cakes, I met her mom, we went on dog walks with Vee, we drew faces on beans, and we did a lot of fun things. Kittee is A+ tops. She has a heart of gold, a true sweetness, she's a creative genius, she's a culinary wizard, and she is who she is with honesty: the good the bad and the ugly -- which is something I really admire. 

VeeSeven and Me
Vee is Kittee's dog, in case you didn't know. He's kinda famous.

Kittee and I were very naughty. Apparently we didn't take a single picture of the two of us together on that trip! 
So I drew a doodle of us from back then. Kittee had bangs and I had a pony tail. It was winter, so we were all bundled up. 

I bought Teff Love because I needed to support my awesome friend, but the truth is, I didn't think I liked Ethiopian food. I've only had it in restaurants a couple of times, and both times the injera bread gave me an upset stomach. That's kind of a bummer. I guess it's kinda like what I said about sushi and seaweed a few posts back... I want to like it, but I can't make it happen. So, I never made anything from Teff Love, I just admired it. 

But then, I had a realization. I could just skip the injera! haha. DUH. I'm not sure why it took me so long to have this extremely obvious realization. I late-night messaged my pal Cadry, who I know is a certified Teff Love Enthusiast and asked her what would be some good recipes to try that didn't require the injera, and she gave me so many great suggestions. Thanks Cadry! 

So, I busted open my Teff Love and Got To Work. 

Some basics for getting started.
as an ode to Kittee, I put pretty little words on my picture

First I had to make some basics so I could take it from them. I started with Berbere Paste, Awaze Sauce, Ye'qimen Zeyet (seasoned oil), and some Chickpea Tofu. These were all fun and easy to prepare, and for the Berbere paste I finally got to put some of my vast spice collection to use! You can't find store-bought Berbere powder anywhere in Santa Cruz, so I was grateful to have a recipe for making it from scratch. I loved seeing all the different spices and seasonings that went into these, and tasting the complex and wonderful results. The chickpea "tofu" uses chickpea flour and comes together really quickly. It takes a little while to set up, but that's not active time in the kitchen. On it's own, it's a quiet, plain flavor - but as you'll see below, it was soon transformed into something crazy good.

Awaze Tofu, Stewed Collards, and Garlic Jojos (served with extra Awaze Sauce)

Look at this amazing dinner! It was so good and we both loved it! We are both big fans of collards, and I know Kittee is a true collards fan as well - and these Ethiopian collards (prepared with the spiced oil) were really easy and delicious. The Garlic Jojos were oven-baked potato fries coated with spices and seasoning. In other words they were just about the yummiest thing ever. At Cadry's suggestion, I also made the baked version of the Awaze Tofu and it was great. I had some left over after dinner and had it for breakfast the next day. I have a soft spot in my heart for cold baked tofu for breakfast. I am a vegan.

Chickpea Tofu Dumplings 

Next up, following another of Cadry's suggestions, I made the Ye'shimbra duket kwas, aka Chickpea tofu dumplings. I guess I made mine smaller than Kittee makes hers, because I ended up with lots and lots of these little guys! I always make my cookies small, and I guess i like small dumplings too. These little cuties are made with the chickpea tofu I mentioned before, as well as with a bunch of veggies and some extra seasoning... then baked in the oven.

Ye'tofu Kwas Be'siquar Denich Alicha 
aka Savory Tofu Dumplings with Sweet Potatoes in a Mild Sauce

In either language, this dish has a long name. I made this for dinner and we ate the whole thing. So, we just call it "No Leftovers." Then I used the other half of my little dumplings and went out and bought another sweet potato and made it again for lunch the next day. Even if there weren't going to be any leftovers, I was determined to have it again for lunch. DAMN this dish is SO GOOD. We are in love.

Ye'misser Wot Be'ingudai (Red Lentils with Mushrooms in a Spicy Sauce)
Ye'atakilt Wot (Potatoes, Carrots, and Cauliflower in a Spicy Sauce)
Ye'bedergan Wot (Buttery-Soft Roasted Eggplant in a Spicy Sauce)

Next up, I spent a fun afternoon in the kitchen and made three different spicy dishes, which fed us for dinner two days in a row (plus some bonus lunches). These are spicy, in the sense of being full of spices, but I didn't find them to be overwhelming spicy-hot at all. That's easy to enhance if that's your thing, but don't let the name scare you if you're averse to spicy hot. As you can see, I avoided the danger of an upset tummy by making rice instead of injera. These were all great dishes, but I especially loved the spicy eggplant and the veggies mix.

I'm getting tough on old ideas about what I will or won't eat!
blam! pow! 

I tend to go on little jags, where I pick one book and cook from it for a week or two, and then a different book... like that. It was really fun to have a week of meals from Teff Love, and I'm excited to cook from it a lot more. Do you have any favorites from this book to recommend?

-- I'll pick a winner on Friday!


  1. I love this post for so many reasons- one because I feel like I'm nerding out with how much I love that Kittee person too, and two because I love this cookbook, and three because you made some dishes that I haven't made yet and I'm inspired to give them a try. I haven't been cooking much lately, but this is such a good reminder that I need to make EVERY recipe from Teff Love.

  2. Sascha and I made a massive Ethiopian feast when Teff Love first arrived at our door. We ate the dishes for the next 10 days and I haven't made anything since even though we loved every single bite. Thank you for inspiring another Teff Love love affair. I think my winter is going to smell of berbere.

  3. I have a picture with all of us from Lebanon's. But we really were naught about the pics. Too busy decorating cakes!

  4. Anonymous5:45 AM

    That's so awesome about Veg News! Well deserved - in my opinion the most impressive cookbook of the year. Everything you made looks great - I'm bummed work has me abandoning my kitchen for two months :( My new year will be fragrant with berbere! Up the Teff Love collard club!

  5. So happy you saw the light and I absolutely love your doodle of the three of you!

  6. I have this book and still haven't made anything from it! Perhaps it'll be my winter project as I'll have two weeks off from work (and no vacation days taken - I love Europe!)!

  7. Such a great post! I need to really get on that Teff Love. Such a gorgeous book. Staring right at me, and I haven't done it yet...I will! I will! I will!

  8. Those tofu dumplings are my life! I'm totally making some for Thanksgiving.

  9. I feel like I've been so out of the loop - I had no idea Kittee make this book! I still have her little homemade Ethiopian book from several years ago. :) Also I am totally judging you for not liking injera, ha ha. Now I am off to look up this cookbook!

  10. I think those chickpea tofu dumplings sold the book to me. Or rather I am putting it on my Xmas wishlist and will buy it when no one buys it for me lol


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