Hearty Ethiopian Cabbage Stew

Start the new year with a taste bud journey to Ethiopia with this easy cabbage stew.
Start the new year with a taste bud journey to Ethiopia with this easy cabbage stew.

Start the new year off virtuously with loads of good-for-you veggies.

That’s easy to do with this simple and robust dish of “Ethiopian Cabbage Stew.”

It’s from the cookbook, “Enebla” (Touchwood, 2022), of which I received a review copy.

It was written by Luladey Moges, who was born in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and now makes her home in Los Angeles.

It’s a collection of more than 60 recipes that Moges has made her own, after learning how to cook from her mother, grandmother, and aunts. They include dishes such as “Ethiopian Porridge” made spicy an nourishing with berbere and barley flour; the well-known “Kitfo” or beef tartare; “Lamb Broth Stew,” and a Napolean-like “Ethiopian Millefoglie Cake.”

Every Ethiopian holiday meal centers on a specific animal, Moges writes. For Christmas, that means a sacrificial lamb; for Easter, chicken. During Lent, that mean only vegetarian or vegan dishes.

“Ethiopian Cabbage Stew (Tikil Gomen)” is vegan, but a dish that can be enjoyed year-round because of its always accessible ingredients.

Onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, and green cabbage get cooked on the stovetop in a pot with 1/2 cup water. You may need to add a splash more water, if your cabbage is on the large side.

The recipe also states to coat the pot with 1/2 cup of oil, which seemed excessive to me, so I changed that in the recipe below to a scant 1/4 cup instead, which I found worked just fine.

The natural sweetness of the cabbage and root veggies come to the forefront in this dish. Turmeric tinges everything a vivid mustard color. Jalapeno slices add a hit of grassy heat here and there.

Turmeric gives it vivid color, and jalapenos lend a touch of heat.
Turmeric gives it vivid color, and jalapenos lend a touch of heat.

It all makes for a homey dish with earthy, dusky, and musky notes.

Enjoy it as a main or side dish. It would be wonderful alongside rice or injera. Or topped with a sunny side-up egg. Or rolled up snugly into a tortilla.

Ethiopian Cabbage Stew (Tikil Gomen)

(Serves 4 to 6)

1 medium yellow onion

Scant 1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, diced

3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes

3 carrots, chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup water or more, if needed

1/2 to 1 head green cabbage (depending upon its size), roughly chopped into bite-size pieces (see Note)

2 medium jalapeno peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced

In a medium pot over medium heat, saute the onions with the oil. When they start to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes, add the garlic and chopped potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic has started to soften and the potatoes have started to cook on each side, about 5 minutes in total.

Next, add the carrots, turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste and stir for 1 minute. Add the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Depending on the size of the cabbage used, you may need to add a splash more water to help everything cook evenly.

Add the cabbage and jalapenos and mix well. Cover the pan, turn down the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve hot with injera, rice, or whole grain bread.

Note: Napa and Savoy cabbage work well in this recipe, especially tender Savoy. If you can only get your hands on a head of green cabbage, you might want to use only half of it for this dish, owing to its larger size.

Adapted from “Enebla” by Luladey Moges

More International Cabbage Dishes to Try: Stir-Fried Bagels with Cabbage and Bacon

And: Braised Cabbage with Tomatoes and Fish Sauce

And: Charred Cabbage with Miso and Lime

And: Roasted Savoy Cabbage Wedges, Savoy-Style

And: Sauteed Cabbage

And: Soy-Glazed Cabbage

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