Monday, February 12, 2007

The Recipe of Love: An Ethiopian Cookbook

Addis Ababa Restaurant
1184 Queen Street West

I didn't get any reading done this weekend which is very unusual for me. Friday evening to Sunday was jam-packed with things to do and it was difficult to make time for a book.

One of the highlights of our weekend was the trip to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto, "Addis Ababa". We love going there because from the time you enter its doors it feels like you've entered a different world. I love the subtle fragrance of the frankencense that greets us as we enter and the soft African music humming in the background. The walls are covered with gorgeous African art, with each piece telling its own story. Aster Ketsela Belayneh, the owner of this 15-year old establishment greets each guest personally and chats a little while we decide if we want guava, mango or some other exotic juice. I tell her I enjoy some of the spicier Ethiopian dishes because it rests well on my Indian palate and that I just wish I knew how to cook them. To my good luck, she has recently published her own recipe book,
"The Recipe of Love: An Ethiopian Cookbook" and I grab the opportunity to take one home.

As usual my family and I opt for the
"gebata" or the communal platter with a chicken, beef, lamb and vegetable dish served on "injera", sour dough crepes if you like, which you break off and use to scoop the delicacies into your mouth. The delicacies include the "Dora Wet" (chicken) and the spiced chilli pepper that gives this dish its distinctive flavor is itself a mixture of 11 various spices making for a richly savory and fiery hot dish - my taste buds are on fire, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Our beef dish was called "Ye Tibs Wet' - it's a fiery red dish, again, with berbere spieces, ginger-garlic, nutmeg, cardamom and spiced butter. Along with the meats come a whole host of vegetable dishes - my favorite is the "Keyseir Bedinich" or Beet and Potato Stew with onion, garlic, and ginger, there also the delectable "Gommen Wet" - collard greens with a ginger-garlic mixture. My daughters loved the "Yekik Alicha Wet" (boiled yellow split peas in a mild savory sauce) .

After the dinner I ordered coffee while the kids ordered "Muz Bemar" or fried banana with honey topped with roasted sesame seeds (YUM). Be warned, the "Bunna" or coffee can take a while to arrive because it is roasted and brewed only after the order is placed. I love the coffee roasting ceremony where Aster brings the roasted coffee beans to our table and we breathe deeply enjoying the aroma. When the coffee arrives with Nat, Aster's charming son, it comes in clay pot with a lit resin (probably frankencense) in a clay burner. I savor every drop of the wonderful beverage.

The gracious and beautiful Aster with Moi

My daughters and I with Aster - note the precious cookbook in my hand!

For more information on Aster's cookbook (and sample recipes) please visit her site and here's a tiny review of the book from NOW Magazine.

I love the cookbook because its recipes are really easy to prepare and also, it has nice glossy pictures which makes it easy for you to see what your dish might look like. Also, it has some wonderful information on Ethiopian culture, history, cuisine and philosophy. Finally, in this month of Cupid, who can resist a cook with the title "Recipe of Love"? I couldn't! :)


Asha said...

So great to see you Lotus at last!!:))You are a pretty thing , so are your babies!!Great looking bunch you gals are.
You know last time I was here,I wanted to ask you to review some cookbooks and then I forgot!I would love take a look at this book.I have soul food cookbook which I love.I will browse about this book!Thanks Lotus.Hugs!Have a great V'day!

Lotus Reads said...

HI, Asha!

Thank you for the compliments! I'll tell the girls what you said, they'll be happy! :)

I love cookbooks, especially ones that detail the customs and the history of the cuisine being described.

I took a lot more pictures of the restaurant, but my camera was misbehaving so these are the only two that were worthy of publishing.

I will include a cookbook when I join the non-fiction challenge...don't know which one yet!

Sanjay said...

What Asha Said about you and the kids. You all look cute!!!

Loved reading about the restaurant and brought back memories of "Cafe Adulis" that we used to go to in New Haven. It used to be Ethiopian now they call it Ethiopian/Eritrean. The owner is Eritrean. The food was good although from what I read the coffee is better at the Adis Ababa.

So are you gonna do a recipe and post pics when you try something from the book?

Once again a great post!

Les said...

How wonderful to enjoy such a lovely meal AND take home a copy of the owner's cookbook! I don't handle hot & spicy foods very well, but your meal sounds delicious, especially the coffee. You and your girls are beautiful. Such lovely smiles on all your faces. Thanks for the charming post, Lotus.

jacob said...

the muz bemar sounds very nice. and i echo the earlier sentiments. you are a lovely family.

Sai said...

You and the girls are absolutely gorgeous!

Second of all I LOVE Ethiopian food and used to go to the restaurant in Ann Arbor.

Third of all I love African Art and the fabulous masks with all the various ceremonial significance.

I always burn African incense in my home. It is very sensuous and I absolutely love it!

I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

Ally Bean said...

I'm intrigued. I know nothing of Ethiopian cuisine and now I want to taste it right now! Thanks for book/food/restaurant review. Very interesting. Something new to try.

Lotus Reads said...

@Sanjay - Thanks! Yes, the coffee was excellent, goodness, just talking about it now is making me crave some! lol

Yes, great idea, as I try stuff from the book I will share the recipes here! :)

@Les - You're welcome and thank you for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed reading about our evening out. Not all of the food is spicy, it's just that I opted for dishes with the chilli berbere spices. My older daughter cannot stomach spices at all and she did very well with some of the milder dishes.

@Jacob - the Muz Bemar is lovely and so easy to make too. Put 2 tbsps of honey in a frying pan set on low heat to melt. Slice a banana in 2 and fry in honey turning once. Serve on a plate drizzled with hot honey and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Delicious!

@Sai - thank you so much! Yes, I agree, African Art is gorgeous. I have a collection of African masks which adorn one of the walls in our house and everyone that visits wants to know more about them - really good for conversation! ;)

Where do you buy your African incense? I'd love to light some here, too!

@AllyBean, you're so welcome! A visit to an authentic Ethiopian restaurant is an unforgettable experience or atleast it was for us. I hope you enjoy yours when you go!

Nabeel said...

awwww cute .. i told sugarlips once that the Recipe for love is "One cup of you and one cup of me" :)

fun and happy pictures .. i love 'em.

Lotus Reads said...

@Nabeel - That is the perfect recipe for love! A very Happy Valentine's Day to you and Sugarlips. I'm going to visit your blog tomorrow to see what you two lovebirds have planned! :) Thanks for stopping by!

Radha said...

I'm told cooking is very theurapatic, but I've never enjoyed cooking. I love food though, and enjoyed reading about the communal platter & other Ethiopian yumminess.

By the way you & your girls look beautiful !

Bybee said...

The girls look like your sisters, rather than your daughters. Great picture, love the cookbook.

Dawn said...

The food sounds lushous. The is the one thing I love about living in England vs the Midwest in the States. It is much easier to access foods from other countries! I have found Curries my favorite food. We also have eaten real Moroccan and food from other Eastern countries. It is wonderful!

hellomelissa said...

wow! thank you for the website, the book recommendation, the restaurant review, and the lovely photos! wish i was there with you all.

n's hair looks so cute short! and do i notice the telltale ipod cords dangling from her hand? i had never seen a photo of s and she is as gorgeous as her mother and sister.

Sanjay said...

Yes, great idea, as I try stuff from the book I will share the recipes here! :)

You are on the clock now you know? :)

Susan in Italy said...

Oh Lotus, you are the best! After having gone to a "pretty good" Eritrean restaurant in Milan, I've been spending too much time online looking for good Ethiopian recipes, especially for injera and the yellow lentils your daughter loves. Online I didn't really find much but now you've given me so much more to dive into. Thanks again.

Sai said...

Hey Lotus:
THere is a store called Shades of Africa, where I buy my incense. THe masks are very expensive there so I am hoping to make a trip to Africa for them, ;-)

ML said...

That type of food is right up my alley. I love exotic, well spiced foods. Sounds so delicious!

The pictures are such a treat! You and your girls are just lovely!

beenzzz said...

I have always wanted to try Egyptian cuisine. Living here in Salt Lake City, one does not get choices like that!!! I will look into getting a copy of this cookbook.
The pictures of you and your daughters are so beautiful!!!!!

Hollydolly said...

Lovely review Anjali, you and your girls are truly gorgeous. I love Ethiopian food, we have a really nice restaurant in downtown Ottawa.Look forward to your recipe posts. I too would like to burn some frankencense,sounds very exotic.Hope I can find some in Ottawa.

kimananda said...

What amazing sounding's making me homesick for my old 'local' Ethiopian place in London!

Nyssaneala said...

It's great to find another Ethiopian food lover! I have some wonderful recipes for some ethiopian stews garnered from some friends if you would ever like them. I have recipes for Mesir Wat, Mafe/Groundnut stew (this is actually more Senegalese than Ethiopian), Aleecha, and various Wot recipes.

It's so much fun to use a *tablecloth* of an injera, putting the stews down right on top. And of course, eating with fingers only (in much the same way I eat Indian food)!

And yep, the coffee is so good (I wish I could get my hands on one of those coffee roasters and some green coffee beans). However, it does give me the jitters! I can only drink a tiny amount.

Sanjay, I am surprised to hear of an Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant, considering the history between these two countries!

Lydia said...


You are as beautiful as you sound!and the girls and you look like sisters. :)
I love reading your has got a very soothing touch. Keep writing.

Sanjay said...

Sanjay, I am surprised to hear of an Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant, considering the history between these two countries!

nyssaneala.. Maybe it should not be such a surprise. The place used to call itself Ethiopian and when the countries split, I noticed that. Perhaps it has changed now since I moved away, but my point is.. its not entirely abnormal for people to identify themselves across a divide like this from the point of view of culture or cuisine.
It could simply be marketing too? There are eating places from the subcontinent that call themselves Indo/Pak/Bangladeshi.
Hope that makes sense.

starry nights said...

I have never had etheopian food and would love to after having read this post.the food sounds delicious.I have to add that you and your daughters are beautiful.Love that look really happy to have laid your hands on that recipe book.

Nyssaneala said...

its not entirely abnormal for people to identify themselves across a divide like this from the point of view of culture or cuisine.

Oh, I completely agree, Sanjay!
I see what you're saying. My surprise came from the fact that I know many Ethiopians and Eritreans, and unfortunately ALL of them remain hostile against the other. It got so bad at one point that, in a refugee choir I participated in, one group refused to participate in a performance at a festival for the other group. Quite possibly (and I really hope so) my experiences are not the same as others. But that was where my surprise came from.

Sorry, to take over your thread, Lotus!

Anali said...

My favorite kind of book review! One that involves food! There is or at least used to be an Ethiopian restaurant by the same name here in Boston. The food was great!

You and your daughters are beautiful! They look just like you!

Angela in Europe said...

I have always wondered about Ethiopian food. There is one aroudn the block from me. Maybe I should try it out.

Lotus Reads said...

I want to thank all of you for stopping by and your wonderful comments. I think I should make this a monthly post - what do you all think?

@Radha, thanks! I'm not much of a cook either, but these recipes look really easy - not like our laborious Indian cooking! I will share some soon.

@Bybee, thank you for the compliment! I'm thrilled to bits to read that! :)

@Dawn, I couldn't agree more. London is the capital for international cuisine. I remember my first Indonesian meal was in London and I'll never forget how good it was. Curries are hugely popular in the UK, but they don't taste too much like the curries we make back in India...I guess it's been modified somewhat.

@Melissa, you are sweet thank you! Yes, N. never goes anywhere without her iPod, *sigh*. Will tell you more about her hair when I write you. I hadn't realized this was the first time you were seeing a pic of S. Thank you for your lovely words!

@Sanjay, No pressure, huh? lol

@Susan, I'm so glad I can help! I will copy the two recipes you want and put it on here. Will send you an e-mail when I do just in case you miss reading the comment.

@Sai, some of my masks are gifts and some were bought on a trip we made to South Africa one time. Yes, I'm sure the prices would be inflated here in North America. I will go in search of the incense, I love the smell of Frankencense and myrrh, mmmmmmm.

@ml, thank you! I didn't realize how much fun it would be to do a write-up on a visit to a restaurant. I might do this more often.

@Beenzzz, thank you! I would be happy to share any recipes from this book with you...I know how much you like to try new foods!

Lotus Reads said...

@Sylvia - I'm glad you like Ethiopian food, too! I was thinking of going to the nearest Ethiopian spice shop to ask for Frankencense - if they don't have it there i might have to go into Toronto and ask for it at an African Crafts Store like Sai suggested. I'll let you know if I was successful, ok? How are you feeling now? Better, I hope.

@Kimananada - I don't suppose they have any Ethiopian restaurants in Copenhagen, do they? Glad to see you here, thanks for stopping by!

@Nyssaneala - That groundnut stew sounds fabulous, do share the recipe when you can! Oh yes, the coffee is to die for and you're right, I would love to buy the clay coffee pot, it's such a gorgeous piece of crockery! I had known about the Eritrea/Ethiopian enmity, but hadn't realized how bad it was. Sad. The only book I read about the situation was titled "I Didn't Do it For You: How the World Betrayed An African Nation" by Michaela Wong, but I don't remember too many details, perhaps I should go back and re-read my notes. And don't worry, you are not taking over my thread, I'm learning a lot and I love it!

@Lydia - Welcome and thank you so much for stopping by with such a wonderful comment - it made my day! Do stop by again, if you can, I really would love to hear from you!

@Sanjay - yes, the Indo-Pakistan-WestIndian places have some curious menus, but always so much fun to eat at!

@Lalitha, lol, I just couldn't conceal my glee at getting that recipe book! Thanks very much for the kind words and for stopping by.

@Anali - So glad you liked this review! I promise to do more. Thank you!

@Angela - if you're an adventurous eater, by all means go, you'll enjoy it!

Laura said...

What a cool dining experience! The coffee part sounds really cool. I, myself, am a very unadventerous eater so I would be a little nervous! I would have to go with you so you could show me the ropes!!!

So nice to see you and your lovely daughters in a picture!!! Now maybe I would recognize you on the street! You never know I might be walking around in Canada someday!!!

TS said...

You and your daughters are beautiful! Really nice to see I'll stop thinking about the Kathak dancer that comes to mind when I visit your blog! Stay warm girl, I heard a storm was headed you way (?)...
Next time I am in Toronto, we HAVE to meet..preferably at Brampton Brar's. Sound good?
Ethiopian Cuisine is new to me..loved reading about it.


Bibliochef said...

looks like a great book --- i will get it! and great blog. Yes, add me to your blog roll and I will mention yours!

Hollydolly said...

Good luck with the frankencense search.I'm feeling pretty much OK, now.Have to visit the dentist next week, unfortunately, have to have a tooth extracted, not looking forward to that. Will be in touch with a PM later, changing email servers today.

Sanjay said...


You may be right about the Ethiopian- Eritrean divide. It sort of bothered me that I said Cafe Adulis had both cuisines listed. That is what I thought I had seen. Then I recalled that in my last visit to New Haven, I did a walking tour of all the restaurants we used to haunt. So I went back and looked at the pictures. And you know what you are right. Cafe Adulis now calls itself an Eritrean Mediterranean eating establishment.
So apologies are in order to you for my mis-characterization.
Also many apologies to Lotus for taking over her thread.

@Sanjay, No pressure, huh? lol
Lotus..None whatsoever..none at all. *tries his best innocent look*

gs said...

hi lr
i am reminded of the way my mom use to make filter coffee at home.she would get the peaberry coffee seeds,roast them to the required degree of blackness,crush them to powder in a beautiful hand operated contraption and then put the coffee powder in the filter and pour boiling water into it and leave it overnight.the next day morning fresh milk would be poured into the strong coffee that had got filtered.woila,thatwas some coffee!

Nyssaneala said...

Sanjay -

No apologies needed whatsoever!

Lisa said...

I love going out for Ethiopian food. My very favorite part of it is the smell of my hands for the rest of the evening. I could just smell that smell again and again....... mmmmmmmm.

Time to head in to San Francisco for my favorite Ethiopian spot again....

Lotus Reads said...

@Laura, I'd be delighted to take you to Aster's place if you come visit me in Toronto! Hurry up and get here! :)

@Trupti, Brampton's Brar is fine with me, it would be such fun to meet!!! Are you planning a trip here anytime soon? Bring your cute kiddos, too!

@Bibliochef, thanks! You're on my blogroll now. Will visit you often!

@Sylvia, Ouch@ the visit to the dentist, but glad you are feeling better overall. Yes, please send me your new e-mail addy!

@Sanjay, lol

@gs, oh yes, I know which coffee you're talking about - it's the peroclated kind, isn't it? It's the very best!

@Lisa, mmmmmmm, yes, I know what you mean - I, too, love the spices that linger!

Sugarlips said...

OMG Mashallah you have a beautiful family Lotus :) U look so lovely and your girls are so adorable :) I'm awww-struck at the moment :)

Do share the recepies with us when you try cuz I love cooking :)

Stay Beautiful...!!

Anonymous said...

sniff, i was in bed all day with a raging migraine and a snowstorm - and wake up starving to find this. there is no mercy, i tell you, absolutely none.

J said...

Oh god, we LOVE ethiopian food. SO yummy. Maya calls the bread, Squishy Bread, and she loves it. The best ethiopian food I've had thus far was in Washington DC, though there are some yummy places around here as well. Mmmm. Now I want to come to Toronto for some. :)

Janelle Martin said...

I'm so jealous! The only African restaurant I've ever been to is the one in Kitchener - AM Africa. My friends and I always have our dishes served communal style which is half the fun.

I'm going to have to pick up her cookbook because I love this cuisine. Thanks for the recommendation!

Lotus Reads said...

@Sugarlips - What a sweetie you are, thank you! *hugs* Yes, I definitely plan on sharing a few recipes but if there's anything specific you want, just drop me an e-mail ok?

@nocturne - sorry to hear about your migraine. Wish we lived closer, I would gone out and got you your favorite dish on Aster's menu or cooked it myself. How are you feeling today, sweetie?

@J- lol at squishy bread! I just love the taste of it,mmmmmm! Oh yeah, you and your family should come to Toronto - I'd be happy to take you on a culinary tour! :)

@Janelle - Hi! You're quite welcome! Initially, I found it odd eating from the same plate as everyone else, but I soon grew to enjoy it! I've never been to the restaurant you mentioned, AM Africa, I'd like to try it sometime.

Nabeel said...

awww .. i didn't know that it was you in the pictures .. awesome pictures .. what big smiles .. and mashallah @ your daughters .. pretty like their mama :) You look like Carrie Anne Moss from the Matrix.

Aww look who's here sugarlips .. Kisses and hugs for u honey.

Lotus Reads said...

Hey, Nabeel, thank you! :) It's funny but you're the second person to mention "The Matrix" to me quite out of the blue - now I'm wondering if the cosmos wants me to watch the movie. I'm told the triology is fascinating, but not being a lover of sci-fi I'm not sure I'll appreciate it.

Enjoyed spending some time on Valentine's Day on your blog - you and Sugarlips exude so much love and positivity, it's beautiful!

pandora said...

you and your daughters are beautiful! absolutley gorgeous!! :)

i LOVE ethiopian cuisine!
you know, i LOVE buying cookbooks - and of course cooking too :p

I had disappeared from blogging for a while. was in karachi for over 6 weeks and since blogging is SUCH a pain (unless you're using wordpress) i stopped. hopefully i'll be more regular this time around! oh and i think the bookclub idea died on me :(

hope you're doing well!

Lotus Reads said...

Amna, I am SO THRILLED to see you after such a long time!!! I really do want to stay in touch with you so let me know how I can do that, ok? Want to hear all about your time in Karachi and the thesis you're working on. What about the Brazilian gig, how did that go?

pandora said...

i'm finally back in the blogging world, but I am in the process of moving my blog. i'm just so paranoid y'know? i'll send you a link as soon as i've moved. are you still using your yahoo address??
in any case, i'll email you tonight and see if it goes through or not..

its been a good few months but things have gotten stressful in the past couple of days :( so i'm taking time off and visiting family in toronto.

mad love-

Amelia said...

Oh my goodness!! I can't believe that the whole time I've been reading your blog, I did not know that you are a mother. And here I thought you were in your early twenties! Girl, you look FABULOUS! You are gorgeous, and so is your family. You all look like sisters! Please share your secrets!!

BTW - I will be purchasing this cookbook. Sounds yummy!