Books | It’s about more than the menu in ‘Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa’

The cookbook by Yohanis Gebreyesus takes a look at more than his home country’s cuisine.

Photo by Mike Ramm

Despite being the suburbs, Northern Virginia is home to some of the most diverse dining in the country—including our plethora of Ethiopian restaurants. And, yet, a quick scan of menus shows most Ethiopian restaurants here tend to serve the same slate of a dozen or so dishes. This is why paging through Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa is such an illuminating look at the country’s wide-ranging cuisine.

Sure, the first recipe is injera, made with Ethiopia’s staple-grain teff, and takes readers through a weeklong process for the sour-sweet flatbread that is the literal base—stews are piled on top of the spongy bread—of meals. (There’s also a one-day recipe.)

Photo by Mike Ramm

Other recognizables include berbere (a spice blend of herbs, seeds and chiles), kitfo (steak tartare) and doro wat (simmered chicken). The fun lies in the dishes not normally seen on this continent: a teff-flour lasagna with moringa, a medicinal herb (spinach is the local substitute), breaded-and-fried shiro on top of a salad and green coffee beans cooked in butter.

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, author Yohanis Gebreyesus trained in France and cooked in California before returning home. His book, with striking photography of everyday life, provides historical context through the lens of festive and everyday recipes for a deep dive into a cuisine beyond the restaurant menu. (Interlink, $35)

This post originally appeared in our April 2019 print issue. Subscribe to our weekly food newsletter here.

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