Ethiopian Vegetable Platter (Yetsom Beyaynetu)

Yetsom Beyaynetu means “Combination Platter” in English. Ethiopians are predominantly Orthodox Christians that follow the fasting days prescribed by the Church. There are a lot of fasting days—every Wednesday and Friday, and during Lent. In Ethiopia, fasting doesn’t mean refraining from all food. Instead, they don’t eat or drink until 3pm on those days and eliminate all animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, etc.) from their diet. Basically, they adhere to a vegan diet during fasting days and as a result, Ethiopian cuisine contains many dishes that can be considered vegan. Traditional mealtimes in Ethiopia are dictated by customs and rules of etiquette. An Ethiopian meal is all about generosity, family, welcoming, and community. A traditional Ethiopian meal would go something like this:

  • There will always be a way to wash your hands before and after the meal. Sometimes a host will bring a basin and pitcher to the table.
  • At the start of a meal, a large round tray called a gebeta is brought out covered by a large flat piece of injira.
  • The tray with injera is placed on a dinner table or, more traditionally, on a large wicker table called a mesob.
  • The host will place several piles of each vegetable stew on the injera, within reach of each diner. If meat stews are being served, the will be placed towards the middle. Each diner get their own rolled up injera to eat with.
  • Most traditional Ethiopian food is eaten with the hands; this is done by tearing off a piece of injera, using it to grab some food, and putting it directly in your mouth.
  • It is polite to eat with your right hand – the left is considered unclean and therefore you should avoid using it if you can.
  • Ethiopians will patiently wait until an elder takes the first bite.
  • Traditional meals are eaten from a communal plate, but an eater should not reach all the way across to the other side to grab food and should eat what’s close.
  • The gursha is a gesture when a person will carefully place a morsel of food directly into another’s mouth. It is a gesture of respect and it is courteous to accept it.
  • At the end of most every meal, the buna (coffee) ceremony begins with roasting the coffee beans over a fire, grinding them up in a mortar and pestle, and putting the coffee directly in a pot of boiling water. The coffee is then served in small cups.

A meal in Ethiopia has always been a community event based on respect and sharing. The recipes below are very common for a Yetsom Beyaynetu. A chopped salad with vinaigrette and meat stew like doro wot can be added.

Yetsom Beyaynetu – Ethiopian Vegetable platter

This dish of multiple vegetable stews served over injera bread. It's a new and exciting meal to introduce to a group of family and friends. There's something intimate about a sharing food in a communal meal. A chopped salad and meat stews can always be added. You'll need three pots with their own burners, and get ready to multi-task.
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Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: African, East Africa, Ethiopia
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Food Processor or blender
  • 3 medium saucepans or small pots

Ingredients

Yemisir Wot (Berbere Lentils)

  • ¾ cup Canola or vegetable oil
  • medium Onion
  • ½ cup Berbere spice mix (buy or make)
  • 1 tbsp Ginger root, peeled and pureed with garlic
  • 2 tsp Garli, peeled and pureed with ginger
  • 1 cup Dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups Water
  • ½ tsp Fine sea salt

Tikil Gomen (Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes)

  • ½ cup Canola or vegetable oil
  • medium Onion, peeled, halved and sliced thin
  • 3 large Carrots, peeled and sliced thin on diagonal
  • 2 medium Boiling potatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, peeled and pureed with ginger
  • 1 tsp Ginger, peeled and pureed with garlic
  • ¼ tsp Each: turmeric, sea salt, black pepper
  • 1 cup Water
  • 10 cups Cored green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, stemmed and chopped

Yekik Alicha (Yellow Split Peas with Turmeric Sauce)

  • 1 cup Dried yellow split peas
  • ¼ cup Canola or vegetable oil
  • medium Onions, finely minced
  • tbsp Each: pureed garlic and peeled ginger
  • ½ tsp Turmeric
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 small Red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped

Instructions

Yemisir Wot (Berbere Lentils)

  • In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 8 minutes. Stir in berere, turmeric, ginger, and garlic. Cook another 2 minutes. Stir in lentils and cook another 2 minutes.
    Add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook another 30 minutes, stirring, until lentils breakdown to form a thick stew. Salt to taste.

Tikil Gomen (Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes)

  • In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook another 4 minutes. Add potatoes, cover, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper, cook 1 minute then add water and cook 3 minutes more. Add jalapeno and cabbage and stir to mix for 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft. About 5-10 minutes being careful not to burn.

Yekik Alicha (Yellow Split Peas with Turmeric Sauce)

  • Cover split peas in water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove and drain.
    Heat the oil in the same medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stir minutes. Add ginger and garlic, cook 1 minute. Stir in turmeric, then drained split peas and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute.
    Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook around 30 minutes until peas are soft and stew is thick and not soupy. Stir occasionally and add a little more water if needed. Salt to taste°
  • Serve – Layout a large piece of Injera and make small piles of each stew in front of each diner. Place a rolled piece of Injera next to each diner so they break off pieces to grab the food to eat with their hands.

Notes

  • Everything can be done a lot faster and easier by using a food processor, setting up each dishes ingredients on separate plates, first cooking one of the dishes with a 30 minute cook time, then moving on the the next dish as soon as the first begins it 30 minutes of cooking. 
  • Injera can be purchased or made in advance, keeping stacked under a kitchen towel.
  • If a meat is desired, chicken or beef Doro Wat can be made in advance, warmed and added to the middle semicircle on the injera.
  • A chopped salad and/or stewed spinach may be used to add more green.

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