Every once in awhile I impulse-buy a new cookbook. A few weeks ago I threw The Happy Herbivore into my cart while ordering something at Amazon. I leafed through the cookbook when it arrived, reading the author Lindsay S. Nixon’s introduction (another one of those vegans who lost dozens of pounds, sigh, just by becoming vegan, though in this case by eating fat-free recipes only) and noticed that she said she particularly loved ethiopian food.
About a week later in a spice shop I noticed, in the grab-bag basket at the cash register, an ethiopian spice called Berbere, and I thought, “Hmm, I’ll bet I can find a recipe that uses this in The Happy Herbivore,” and picked up a packet. Sure enough there were two amazing recipes based on this spice – here is the first of them, vegan AND fat-free.
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup dried yellow split peas
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Berbere
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
salt and pepper, to taste.
[cilantro for garnish – my embellishment]
Boil the water or broth and add the split peas. When water returns to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes until the peas look soupy. Just before the split peas are done, heat the onions and garlic in a skillet with a thin layer of water until onion is translucent (3 minutes). Add spices and stir. Add onion/spice mixture to yellow split pease and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve.
If you don’t have Berbere I imagine a little chili pepper would be a good replacement as the Berbere does contribute some heat to the dish. I like to pair legumes with a grain, and I served mine up with quinoa and topped with cilantro. I also cooked the onions with the spices first, and then added the split peas and water to the onion mixture and cooked them all together just to simplify the process. So basically, you are sauteing (or cooking in water) onions and spices, and then throwing in the yellow split peas. It was still delicious.
This is the kind of food you can’t stop eating, yet don’t feel stuffed and bloated with afterward. It makes a perfect one bowl meal, or part of a more complex plate featuring a variety of vegetables, a heap of rice, and a golden fragrant scoop of Kik Alicha. Very kid-friendly; yellow split peas have a natural sweetness.