Alecha-- Ethiopian comfort food, vegetarian-style
As an adoptive mom of kids from Korea and Ethiopia, I've really enjoyed learning to cook food from my kids' homelands. Alecha is typical Ethiopian comfort food: affordable, filling and delicious. The addition of turmeric may seem unusual; typically in America it is used only for pickles. But it is a common seasoning in Ethiopia, and adds an authentic and interesting flavor to this dish.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced in coins
- 4 potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 of a medium green cabbage (about 2 cups, cut into long thin slivers)
- salt and black pepper to taste
Begin by cutting up vegetables. Add oil to a large heavy skillet on medium high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and getting browned bits. Add 1-1/2 cups water, garlic, carrots, potatoes, freshly grated ginger, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots and potatoes are beginning to soften. If liquid evaporates too soon and food begins sticking, simply add a bit more water.
Once carrots are beginning to soften, add butter, cabbage, and remaining 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender. In Ethiopia this is served with injera, a sourdough flatbread. It also goes well with rice, tucked in pita bread, or wrapped in atortilla. Or do like I did last night: serve it alongside leftover pizza and lasagna! It is a really versatile dish that goes well with many foods.