[This Ethiopian Tofu Scramble is great for breakfast or as a main at dinner. This recipe is vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, nut-free, and low glycemic. Suitable for Stage 3 and beyond on an anti-candida diet.]
These days, I never blink twice when it comes to cooking with exotic or unusual ingredients or spices. After all, some of the best cuisines for an anti-candida diet have nothing to do with Little Debbie, Betty Crocker, or Tim Horton; and while my North American roots formed the basis of what I eat, more often than not my menus are also filled with dishes from Asian, South American, African or European origins.
That’s why I feel very lucky to live in the vicinity of Toronto, proudly touted as one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. If you can name a cuisine, you can likely find it here. This panoply of foods and culinary variety was incredibly awe-inspiring to me when I first moved here to attend university back in the ’80s. I remember being enthralled by the establishments serving up authentic Spanish, Malaysian, Hungarian, Thai, Italian, Jamaican, French, Greek, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Korean food–you name it–and wanting to hop from one to the next as I sampled every dish on every menu.
Needless to say, during my first semester at University of Toronto, I was thrilled when a new date asked if I’d like to dine at an Ethiopian restaurant. (Not to mention the thrill of a New Date!! Or, come to think of it, ANY date! But I was pretty happy about the food, too). Of course, I eagerly agreed, knowing absolutely nothing about Ethiopian food.
Things turned a little sour (though not like an excellent injera) almost immediately, when I realized we’d be sharing food, without utensils, by pulling bits of a large pancake (aforementioned injera) with our fingers, popping those fingers in our mouths to eat, and then returning to pull off more of the pancake, as is Ethiopian tradition. Now, I don’t consider myself a prude, but sharing saliva on a first date just wasn’t my idea of “a good time”. I fought the urge to sample only one nibble of the bounty to avoid “double dipping,” and made my best effort to enjoy the meal.
As it turned out, I loved everything about the evening, including my conversation with Mr. N.D. But the food! The food was amazing. I was besotted by the individual mounds of spicy, or fragrant, or intensely flavored beans, chickpeas and lentils with a variety of vegetables–some that were not yet familiar to me–bathed in deep, rich tomato or brown sauces that were a perfect complement to the tangy, pliable injera. Every mouthful was incredible. And I let Mr. N.D. know that I’d be more than happy to share as many Ethiopian meals as he liked with him.
Sadly, the romance faded fairly quickly (we parted ways after a few months), but the thrill of consuming Ethiopian food has never wavered.
You can imagine my glee, then, when I received a copy of Kittee Berns’s new book, Teff Love, filled with plant-based Ethiopian recipes. (Well, I lie. It was new when I received it last year–but I’ve only now been able to post about it).
This book contains so many of my favorites, recreated! I’ve loved the Ye’Misser Wot (Red Lentils in a Spicy Sauce) and Ye’Nech Bakela Alicha (Creamy, Garlicky White Beans in an Onion-Turmeric Sauce); and am still dying to try the Ayib (vegan cheese); Ye’Bedergan Wot (Buttery-Soft Roasted Eggplant in a Spicy Sauce); Ye’Telba Wot (Rich, Spicy Sauce made from Toasted Ground Flaxseeds); Ye’Difin Misser Alicha (Hearty Lentils in a Flavorful Garlic-Ginger Sauce); Gomen Be’Telba (Tender Stewed Collard Greens in a Nutty, Toasted Flaxseed Sauce); Garlic Jocos (Crispy, Garlicky Potato Wedges Baked with Ethiopian Spices); Spiced Teff Snickerdoodles (yum!); and, of course, the dish that started it all for me: authentic Ethiopian injera!
The book also offers a mini-course in Ethiopian cuisine, from a short history of Ethiopia to a list of basic ingredients and spices (most can be found in a regular supermarket) to an inventory of handy kitchen tools and tips on how to save time, and notes on cooking for a crowd. Kittee clearly knows her stuff and her in-depth knowledge easily demystifies this cuisine for newbies like me.
For today, though, I thought that an aromatic, impeccably spiced and satisfying tofu scramble would be a good choice to share. The base recipe (without the jalapenos) is only barely spicy, yet filled with alluring and exotic tastes and spices that draw you in. If you’re a fan of über-spice as we are here in the RH household, go for the jalapeno (or stop somewhere midway with only half a sliced pepper).
Although this dish would be divine spooned onto a large injera and surrounded by some Spicy Fava Beans or Ye’BEqolo Genfo (Creamy, Cheesy Corn Grits from the book), I loved it for breakfast with a side of quick Kale and Beet Salad. Either way, you’ll want to make it regularly.
Grab your own copy of Teff Love here and start exploring this beguiling cuisine for yourself!
Ye’Tofu Enkulal Firfir (Tofu Scramble) from Teff Love by Kittee Berns
reprinted with permission from Book Publishing Company ©2015
1/2 onion, sliced 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick and coarsely chopped (3/4 cup or 180 ml)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, preferably organic (see note 1)
4 cloves garlic, pressed or grated (2 tsp/10 ml)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt, or to taste
14 ounces (375-450 g) extra-firm tofu, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp (30 ml) nutritional yeast flakes (for Stage One, use miso)
2 tsp (10 ml) ground coriander
1 tsp (5 ml) ground berbere (see note 2)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) granulated onion
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground turmeric
1 small tomato, diced (3/4 cup or 180 ml–I ran out so used 4 sundried tomatoes, soaked in water and chopped)
1/4 cup (60 ml) minced fresh basil, lightly packed (optional)
1/2 jalpeno, cut into thin rounds (I used a whole one–we like spice!)
freshly ground black pepper
Put the chopped onion, oil, garlic and slat in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
Crumble the tofu (keeping some medium-sized chunks) into the skillet and sprinkle with the nutritional yeast, coriander, berbere, granulated onion and turmeric. Stir to incorporate the spices into the tofu and cook, stirring frequently, until the tofu is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato, optional basil and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato has softened slightly, about 2 minutes longer. Season t otaste with pepper and additional salt if desired. Makes 3 cups. May be frozen.
Note 1: the original recipe suggests using Ye’qimen Zeyet, a spicy oil (recipe in the book) as the first choice here, but also mentions olive oil as a suitable substitute.
Note 2: Berbere is an Ethiopian spice mix (recipe in the book). You can also find loads of Berbere recipes online; I have previously used this one with success.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 3 and beyond; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, nut free, vegan, low glycemic.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using those links, at no cost to you, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.
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OMG! We have an ethiopian restaurant here in Montreal, The “Nil Bleu”, and I have been searching for the name of that creamy, smoky eggplant appetizer EVERYWHERE! We usually get the Vegetarian tasting menu, with 4-5 appetizers and 4-5 stew/curry dishes, and we fight for that eggplant deliciousness! THANK YOU! Hopefully I can recreate it at home!
The tofu dish sounds good too! May have to look for that book!
Ricki Heller says
I know, Frederique–isn’t EVERY dish at an Ethiopian restaurant divine? I’ll have to look for NIl Bleu next time I’m in Mtl–I never even thought to seek out an Ethiopian place there, but there would be so much for me to eat on that menu! Thank you! 😀
It’s near the corner of St-Denis and Des Pins, and their Injera is made with buckwheat (and thus Gluten free!) 🙂
P.S. it’s below a Hotel, if ever you need a place to stay! 😉
Ricki Heller says
Sounds great, Frederique! Thank you so much! 😀
I really need to get this book – everything looks SO good. I love a scramble…
Ricki Heller says
Me, too, Kristina! And this one was stellar. 😀
I am a huge fan of Ethiopian food too! I didn’t try it for the first time until I’d gone vegan, but the restaurant where I dined, Rahel Vegan Ethiopian in Los Angeles, set the bar very high. I was so sad when I had to leave it behind when we moved from California. But Kittee’s book has helped to salve some of my sadness, because her recipes are so AMAZING. I cook from it all the time. It’s a very Velveteen Rabbit looking cookbook now, if you know what I mean.
Ricki Heller says
I feel the same way about this book, Cadry! So many things I want to try in there. 😀 And love the Velveteen Rabbit analogy!