This Ethiopian Feast is comprised of Ground Beef Stew, Collard Greens, and Teff Flatbread (Minchet Abish, Ye’basha Gomen, and Ingera), and it's the perfect meal when you want something a little different from the ordinary.
One of the things I enjoy most about living in the DC area is the cultural diversity, which of course translates into easy access to a variety of different cuisines. Mike and I were already fans of international foods (Thai, Indian, and Middle Eastern are some of our favorites), but since moving here, our culinary world has been expanded even more.
Being a food blogger means I do a lot of recipe testing (more than just two people can eat), so I like to spread the love and I occasionally run foods I make over to different neighbors. There’s an Ethiopian family in our building who is always excited when I ring their bell. One day they said they wanted to return the favor and invited us over for an Ethiopian meal that weekend.
Mike and I were excited, but there’s no way we could have anticipated just how big a feast they were preparing. There were at least 10 dishes total, including homemade yeast bread and flatbread; a chicken dish and several spicy meat dishes, including a raw dish similar to steak tartar; two stewed lentil-type dishes; sautéed greens; as well as a couple different kinds of salad. And if that weren’t enough, after dinner they roasted coffee on the stovetop (omg, the aroma) and brewed it Ethiopian-style and served along with popcorn (you can read about Ethiopian coffee ceremony on Serious Eats if you’re interested). Needless to say, we were amazed by the meal, traditions, and their generosity and hospitality; for me, it was love at first bite with Ethiopian food.
Of course it was only a matter of time before I tried my hands at Ethiopian food! Mike and I have reminisced about our favorite parts of that meal, and we both agreed that the ground beef stew was fabulous. It’s rich with spices, but other than that it really is a pretty simple dish and it couldn’t be easier to make, requiring only time to slow cook and marry all those flavors.
The collard greens cook up the same way any greens do, but the spices and aromatics used will leave you wanting to put this recipe into your regular rotation (especially if your family is big into wilted and/or sautéed greens!).
Traditionally, different stew-like dishes are spooned onto a piece of flatbread and then another piece of flatbread is used to scoop up the stews. Ethiopian Ingera is typically made using teff flour (a gluten-free whole grain), and I used Bob’s Red Mill teff flour to make mine. Making Ingera is as easy as whisking together flour and water and making crepes, but take note, the batter needs to be made in advance and left at room temperature to ferment for a couple days.
Ingera is a spongy in texture and has a mild sourdough-like flavor due to fermentation (of course, the sour flavor gets stronger the longer you let the batter ferment). This flatbread is a good utensil for soaking up the flavors of what you’re serving with it. And if you're looking for other uses for teff flour beyond Ingera, Bob’s Red Mill says you can substitute ¼ of the white flour called for in a recipe with teff flour to bump up the nutrition, as it’s a good source of fiber, protein, iron, amino acids, vitamin C, and calcium. I gave this a try with my favorite banana bread recipe and it worked like a charm.
Have you tried Ethiopian food?
- 1½ cups (245 g) teff flour
- 2 cups (475 ml) water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Clarified butter, avocado oil, or coconut oil, for the pan (if needed)
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 large cloves garlic, crushed or grated on a microplane
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated on a microplane
- 1½ teaspoons ground sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon each ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon each ground nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, and black pepper
- 1½ lbs (680 g) organic grass-fed ground beef (I use 85% lean)
- 3 to 4 cups (710 to 950 ml) water or low-sodium beef stock
- 1 (6 oz/170 g) can tomato paste
- 4 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
- 1 large onion, diced
- ¼ teaspoon each salt, crushed red pepper flakes, ground cardamom, and black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground fenugreek
- 4 large cloves garlic, crushed or grated on a microplane
- ½-inch piece fresh ginger, grated on a microplane
- 2 lbs (910 g) collard greens, rinsed, de-stemmed, and sliced into ¼-inch strips
- 1½ cups (355 ml) water or low-sodium vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- Stir together the teff flour and water in a large glass bowl; cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and leave it at room temperature to ferment (do not stir it during this time; it will start to smell slightly sour when it’s ready; this can take 1 to 3 days).
- When the batter is ready, stir in the salt and heat an 8 to 9-inch skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, lightly brush the inside with oil.
- Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom (about ⅓ cup in an 8-inch skillet), and rotate the skillet around to spread out the batter. Cover the skillet with a lid, cookie sheet, or piece of foil (to help the flatbread steam), and cook until the flatbread is browned on the bottom and feels dry to the touch on the top (do not flip it; this can take anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes).
- Remove the cooked flatbread and place it on a wire rack to cool.
- Cook the rest of the batter the same way (I get about 6 to 8 flatbreads of this size from this recipe), and when they’re cool, stack them between parchment paper until using (you can make them up to 4 hours ahead and leave them unrefrigerated).
- To serve, roll up each flatbread and tear off little pieces to scoop up the stew and greens. Store leftovers refrigerated (since there’s no preservatives in this bread).
- Add the ghee to a 5-quart pot over medium-high heat; once the ghee is melted, add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and all the spices and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add the beef, cover the pot, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the meat.
- Stir in 3 cups of water and the tomato paste, bring up to a boil, and then cover the pot, turn the heat down to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, and adding more water or stock as necessary. (Stir more frequently toward the end of cooking; you can remove the lid after the 3 hour mark to help speed up evaporation.)
- Add the ghee to a large skillet over medium-high heat; once the ghee is melted, add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the garlic, ginger, and all the spices and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Stir in the collard greens and water, cover the skillet, and cook until the greens are tender, about 45 minutes (you can add a splash more water as necessary if the pan gets too dry; alternatively, you can remove the lid toward the end of cooking time to let the liquid evaporate faster).
- Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and taste to see if it needs more salt and/or lemon juice.
Clarified Butter: If you can find niter kibbeh (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter) or want to make it yourself, use that instead of the regular clarified butter in the beef and greens recipes.
Berbere Spice Mix: If you have access to Berbere spice mix, use about 4 to 6 tablespoons of it instead of all the different spices in the beef recipe (if your mix has salt included, don’t add additional salt).
Make-Ahead: The batter for the flatbread needs time to ferment (typically between 1 to 3 days in a draft-free place at room temperature). The beef stew and collard greens can both be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in the fridge.
Disclosure: I’m thrilled to partner with Bob’s Red Mill as a brand ambassador. I received the Bob’s Red Mill product that I used in this recipe for free, and I also received compensation for this post. I am happy for the opportunity to share brands that I believe in with my readers, and I hope you enjoy my recipe. As always, opinions stated are my own.