Yotam Ottolenghi’s Eritrean and Ethiopian recipes | Food (2024)

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

An East African feast, including berbere lentils and vegetables, cucumber, coconut and lime salsa – and teff flatbreads to scoop it all up with

Yotam Ottolenghi

Sat 6 Oct 2018 09.30 BST

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For years I’ve been trying to make injera, a pancake-like fermented bread that’s used in Ethiopia and Eritrea instead of cutlery. Its earthy acidity is the perfect complement to the region’s rich stews and soups. It took a private tutorial with Shewa Hagos of the Blue Nile cafe in Woolwich, south London, for me to realise (yet again) that some foods are best left in the hands of experts. Injera is an art that involves tending to a rather capricious mother batter on a regular basis, and relies on some serious experience (also, often reserved to mothers). Thankfully, injera can be bought online (from tobiateff.co.uk, for one), or serve today’s Ethiopian- and Eritrean-inspired dishes with any other bought-in flatbread, my own teff flatbread (see recipe below), or with rice or couscous.

Berbere lentils and tomatoes with ginger and cardamom (pictured above)

Berbere is a spice mix used in many Eritrean and Ethiopian dishes. A typical blend will contain cloves, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, chillies, garlic and ginger. That’s quite an extensive list, so it’s easier to use a shop-bought blend, which are widely available. Serve this as part of a spread with today’s other dishes, or as a wintery side.

Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1½ tsp berbere spice mix
½ tsp ground turmeric
5 large plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
8 cardamom pods, seeds removed and roughly ground in a mortar
200g red split lentils, soaked in water for 10 minutes, then drained
10g fresh coriander (about 3½ tbsp), roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high flame, then fry the onion for eight to nine minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and caramelised. Add the berbere spice mix and turmeric, stir for a minute, until aromatic, then add three of the chopped tomatoes (about 300g), the tomato paste and a teaspoon and a quarter of salt. Cook for three minutes, so the tomatoes start to break down, then stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin and cardamom, and cook, stirring continuously for two minutes.

Add the lentils, then pour in 500ml water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until the lentils are nearly soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add the remaining tomatoes and cook for five minutes more. Stir in the coriander just before serving.

Roast berbere vegetables and chickpeas

This will serve four generously.

Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp paprika
¾ tsp berbere spice mix
¾ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 sweet potatoes (about 700g), unpeeled and cut into 2cm dice
240g cooked chickpeas (tinned are fine here), drained, rinsed and patted dry
1 cauliflower (about 700g), broken into 2-3cm florets
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
90ml olive oil
130g baby spinach
1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Mix together all the spices in a bowl. Put the sweet potatoes and chickpeas in one large bowl and the cauliflower in another.

Put two-thirds of the spice mix, half the garlic, three tablespoons of oil and half a teaspoon of salt in the sweet potato and chickpea bowl, toss to coat, then spread out on a 30cm x 40cm baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Put the rest of the spice mix and garlic, two tablespoons of oil and half a teaspoon of salt in the cauliflower bowl, and toss to coat.

Roast the sweet potato and chickpeas for 10 minutes, then add the cauliflower to the tray, stir and roast for 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft and golden brown, and the chickpeas are crisp.

Mix the spinach with the remaining tablespoon of oil and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, and spread out on top of the vegetables. Return to the oven for a final 10 minutes, until the spinach is crisp, then leave to cool for about five minutes. Drizzle over the lemon juice, gently mix together one more time, transfer to a platter and serve.

Coconut, cucumber and lime salsa

This simple salsa adds freshness when served alongside rich, spicy dishes. Coconut cream makes it vegan, but Greek-style or natural yoghurt will work just as well.

Prep 6 min
Cook 5 min
Serves 4

1 medium cucumber, coarsely grated (300g net weight)
15g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
200g coconut cream
Juice of 1½ limes (about 30ml)
⅓ tsp salt

Put the cucumber in a clean tea towel and squeeze to get rid of as much water as possible – you should be left with 180g drained cucumber. Put this in a large bowl, stir in all the remaining ingredients, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Teff flatbreads

Teff flour is made from a grain typically grown in Eritrea and Ethiopia. It’s the base for injera and the dominant flavour in these flatbreads.

Prep 2 min
Rest 45 min
Cook 30 min
Makes 6

150g wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting
50g teff flour
2½ tbsp olive oil
, plus extra for greasing

In a medium bowl, mix both flours with half a teaspoon of salt. Slowly pour in 125ml water, a little at a time, and mix together until you have a smooth, slightly sticky ball of dough. Add two teaspoons of oil and gently fold to combine. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead for seven minutes. If it gets too dry, wet your hands with a little water; the end result should be a smooth, elastic ball that doesn’t stick to your hands.

Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for at least 45 minutes and up to two hours. Divide the dough into six pieces about 55g each and roll into balls.

Put a frying pan on a high heat. Lightly flour a clean work surface and use a rolling pin to roll out one ball into a thin 15cm-diameter circle. Lay in the hot pan and cook for about 90 seconds a side, until lightly puffed up, charred and cooked through. Brush each side lightly with olive oil, transfer to a plate, cover with a tea towel to keep warm, and repeat with the remaining balls and oil. Serve warm.


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