Ethiopian Sampler

photo(254)If you’ve ever eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant — as I have many times in Washington D.C. — you know that the food is served on one big platter and that you eat off the same platter as the others at your table.  Different kinds of food — from stews to meats to vegetables — are served atop a huge round injera, a spongy, sour-tasting flat bread similar to crepes.  No utensils are necessary, as you eat with your hands, scooping small portions of the food with pieces of the injera.

Dining the Ethiopian way creates the aura of family or community and can definitely be described as “intimate.” This reminds me of a similar practice in the Philippines –where during a picnic in a park or by the beach–  fish, meats, vegetables and rice are spread over a huge banana leaf for everyone to partake using their fingers. Some Filipino restaurants mimic this practice.

Eating off banana leaves in the Philippines

Eating off banana leaves at a restaurant in Baguio City, Philippines. Photo by Raffy Amagan Astudillo

As part of My Bay Kitchen’s “Ethnic Foods Series,” I thought of preparing my version of a sampler Ethiopian menu consisting of tibs (meat – I used chicken gizzards), mesir wat (lentil stew), greens (instead of collard greens, I used dark green bok choy), and sambusa (deep fried pastry with ground beef).  I won’t even dare to make the injera from scratch so I tried to find a source for it. I found this food company based in Washington, D.C. and Texas that  specializes in packaged, ready-to-eat injera. (Upon delivery, immediately refrigerate the injera packages until you are ready to use them.  They can remain refrigerated for about week.  For longer shelf life, store them in the freezer).

If you insist on making your own injera, here’s a great link:


TIBS (Meat)


1 lb chicken gizzards, thinly sliced

2 medium-sized onions, chopped

1 tsp fresh minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed.

1 tbsp whole black pepper

2 pcs green chili pepper, chopped

2 tbsps rosemary

5 tbsps butter, unsalted

1 cup water


In a large wok, melt the butter in medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown.  Add onions and cook until tender.  Add gizzards. Add ginger, chili pepper and black pepper.  Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add 1 cup of water, bring to a boil, then let simmer. Add rosemary. Continue to cook  until the gizzards become tender.

MESIR WAT (Lentil Stew)


1 lb red lentils

2 medium-sized onions, peeled and quartered

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tbsp minced ginger

1/4 cup Olive oil

4 cups chicken stock

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsps paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste


Using a blender, puree onions, garlic and ginger, adding a tsp of Olive oil. Set aside.  In a large wok, heat the rest of the Olive oil in medium-high heat. Add in turmeric, cayenne pepper and paprika and stir well. Add in the puree  and stir for about 5 minutes.  Pour in the chicken stock until it boils.  Add lentils, reduce heat and let simmer for 45 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. If necessary, add water to prevent lentils from drying up.

SAMBUSA (Ground Beef)


1 lb ground beef

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 medium-sized onions, chopped

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 sprigs fresh mint, chopped

1/2 tsp coriander

5 tbsps Olive oil

1/2 package small wonton wrappers

1/3 cup mango chutney


In a large wok, heat a tbsp Olive oil in medium-high heat.  Sauté garlic, onions and ginger.  Add ground beef and let it brown.  Add all the remaining ingredients. Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring constantly until all the liquid is gone.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.  When ready, place about a teaspoon of the cooked meat in the middle of each wonton wrapper, fold in a triangular shape using a wonton mold,  and seal the ends by moistening with water.  In a large frying pan, heat the remaining Olive oil and fry the Sambusas several at a time.  When browned on either side, remove Sambusas from heat and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve with chutney on the side.



3 bunches, dark green bok choy, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tbsp Olive oil

1 tbsp white vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large wok, heat Olive oil in medium-high heat.  Add garlic and sauté until golden brown.  Add bok choy and vinegar.  Stir-fry until leaves start to wilt.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat


injeraFold 3-4 pieces of the injera so that each would form a triangle.  Loosely wrap them in moist paper towel, and heat in the microwave for about a minute.  Line a large round plate with one piece of injera, unfolded. Scoop several tablespoons each of the tibs, wat and greens and set them atop the injera.  Add the desired number of fried sambukas to the plate, along with a tablespoon or two of the mango chutney. Place the remaining folded injera pieces on opposite sides of the plate. Tear small pieces of the injera and use to scoop up small amounts of the tibs, wat and greens.


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