When we lived in Boston, one of our favorite places to eat out at was Addis Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant in Back Bay. After finding our way to one of the open barchumas or low benches, we always started off with Ethiopian beer and vegetarian sambusas, served on a mesob. My favorite dish there was the butecha: a chickpea-based dish with jalepeno, lemon juice, oil and black pepper. It was served on a huge piece of fluffy injera, with a few extra pieces rolled up on the side. I loved the taste of this dish for its simplicity, and liked the little ritual that was involved with eating it.
Although I tried making butecha from a few recipes I found online, none of them really replicated what Addis Red Sea offered—until I tried the butecha recipe in Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking, a new Ethiopian cookbook by Kittee Berns. Perfectly textured and with a nice balance of creaminess, acidity and subtle heat from the jalepeno, this butecha is easy to make and tastes amazing. But Teff Love offers way more than just butecha.
Teff Love is a vegan, mostly gluten-free cookbook written from a North American perspective, and reflects Kittee’s knowledge of Ethiopian cuisine, which she has experimented with and perfected over the last 25 years. I’ve been a follower of Kittee’s work for years, first from her blog pakupaku many years ago, then at Cake Maker to the Stars, which she currently maintains. I adore Kittee’s warm personality, signature style and her sincere love of sharing her perspective and love of food and cooking.
Once you open the cookbook, Kittee takes you by the hand, giving you a brief overview of Ethiopian spices, specialty ingredients and a grocery list (with ingredients listed in English and Amharic) before delving into how to make dishes like ye’difin misser sambusas (crunchy lentil-stuffed pastries with a chickpea flour crust), hirut’s fasolia (tender braised green beans with carrot and soft onion in a tangy tomato-ginger sauce), ye’ingudai awaze tibs (stir-fried mushrooms with onion and rosemary in a spicy wine sauce), ye’tofu kwas be’siquar denich alicha (savory tofu dumplings with sweet potatoes in a mild sauce) and shai be’qimem (black tea steeped with fresh ginger, spices and orange rind). The flavors and aromas in Teff Love are bold, the ingredients are accessible and the recipes are approachable. It also gives visibility to and demystifies Ethiopian cuisine—one that’s often glossed over or misunderstood in most parts of the US.
I’m so excited to share one of Kittee’s recipes for her quick teff crepes below. Traditional teff crepe batter takes days to ferment and, while this recipe doesn’t offer the same level of tang and complexity, it’s a perfect method for making inerja when you want it in under 30 minutes!
Quick Teff Crepes
Yield 14 6-inch crepes
- 1 cup teff flour, any variety
- 1⁄2 cup chickpea flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups carbonated water
- 2/3 cup unsweetened plain vegan yogurt
- 6 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Preheat a nonstick skillet (see cooking tip) over medium heat.
- Put the teff flour, chickpea flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously to combine and to beat out any lumps in the chickpea flour. Add the carbonated water and vegan yogurt and whisk well to combine. When the griddle is hot, whisk in the vinegar to combine. The batter will rise and foam, and the consistency will be thin and reminiscent of chocolate milk.
- Form each crêpe by using a 1/3-cup measure to scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and pour it into a disk on the hot pan. Use a spoon to quickly and lightly smooth the batter into a 6-inch disk, starting in the center and working in concentric circles until you reach the edges (keep the center of the crêpe the thickest and the edges the thinnest; the crêpe should be between 1/8 and 1⁄4 inch thick).
- Cover and cook for 1 minute. The crêpe should be dry on the top with a smattering of little holes over its surface. Uncover and continue to cook the crêpe without turning it for 1 to 11⁄2 minutes. The total cooking time for each crêpe should be 2 to 21⁄2 minutes. When fully cooked, the crêpe should be dry on top with a few air-bubble holes, and the bottom should be firm, smooth, and lightly browned. Depending on your cookware and stove, you’ll need to adjust the heat to achieve this result. Use a flat, flexible spatula to loosen and release the crêpe, and then quickly transfer it to a plate and cover with a clean, dry tea towel. Repeat the cooking process until all the batter has been used. As the crêpes are made, stack them on top of each other and keep them covered with the towel so they don’t dry out.
- As they cool, the crêpes will develop a spongy-stretchy texture. Let them rest until they’re room temperature, then wrap the stack loosely in a clean, dry tea towel and seal it in a ziplock bag until serving time. Be sure the crêpes are completely cool or the bag will collect moisture and they’ll spoil. If you notice any condensation, open the bag to air it out.
- For the best success, I recommend cooking these crêpes on a flat, anodized griddle or pan. If you find the crêpes are sticking as they cook, mist the pan with a small amount of oil. Keep in mind, just as with traditional teff injera, the first one cooked is usually a throwaway or a treat for the cook.
- Halve this recipe if you’d like a smaller yield, and for the best results, eat these the same day they’re prepared.
To see how to correctly make inerja at home, take a look at Kittee’s video below!
To see a full round-up of Kittee’s Teff Love virtual tour, click here.
For the previous Teff Love virtual tour review, visit Vedged Out.
For the next Teff Love virtual tour review, visit Vegan Richa on March 15!