Monday, 23 July 2012

Zine review. Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food

As I have said previously, I am now vegetarian again and looking to expand my cooking repertoire once more. I have a useful piece of advice for you if you are vegetarian, and that is, learn to cook vegan food, because, to start with you might end up vegan and if that happens you will be half way there, but also, if you are vegetarian, there are a lot of very depressing recipes out there of the Add Cheese To Everything variety *cough* Delia *cough*. I stopped by a restaurant the other day and was looking at the menu, and I swear to you that every option for veggies involved goats cheese or blue cheese. The only cheese I can manage is cheddar.What would I have eaten? I would have starved, and that would have been sad. I think there was a period in the late nineties where it was actually illegal in Britain to not eat goats cheese and rocket salad at least once a fortnight if you did not eat meat. Anyway that is my rant about cheese, which is, in essence, that replacing a sausage with a bit of goats cheese does not a delicious vegetarian alternative make, and that is why vegan food is great as it is imaginative and different. If you are reading this and thinking ha, ha. No, then, you are not up with the revolution that is modern vegan cooking, Buster. Come here, sweet innocent, and be educated.
Try not to be scared by Papa Tofu. He means well. He just looks like something from your darkest nightmares
So, I wanted to show you this excellent recipe zine that I bought – Papa Tofu loves ethiopian food, by Kittee Berns. Kittee has a website which contains my favourite Evah recipe for Aloo Gobi, which we eat often and which is Partner’s top favourite, especially when I make a mistake and put too much chilli in. Anyway, I had no idea about ethiopian cooking, which (tilts head thoughtfully) I do not believe has come to Cambridge yet, but, I am dipping my toe cautiously into the waters.
You need to imagine how much better this photograph would be if I had not done it on formica so that everything is beige. That on the left is my delicious spicy niter kibbeh in a natty Klippit
Kittee’s recipes are based on a spice blend – berbere – and a flavoured butter – niter kibbeh (using vegan marg – I used Pure), and she gives you recipes for both of these. I was able to make the niter kibbeh (and should be able to make the berbere) using spices I had already, but, this is the spice corner:
Buying spices from Tesco and Asda isn't going to deconstruct heartless global capitalism, is it now. Think on, Susie
So you can see we have quite a lot (I tell a lie – I have had to buy allspice and I bought some fenugreek powder, but only because I hadn’t got the energy to grind it myself). If you have fewer spices to start with you will have to spend more money, but it is worth it (go to your local mad health food shop/ indian grocer, it is better value. You can see I have got my spices there from every shop in Cambridge, so I know whereof I speak). My niter kibbeh smells amazing (and that’s not a euphemism). I have unfortunately stained Papa Tofu already with turmeric, but I think he can take it. I suspect it won’t be the last.

I branched out into a bit of ethiopian cooking last Saturday. I had leftover dal (this is obviously completely inauthentic and from the wrong country but it was leftover, so, you know), and I made Kittee’s ye’abesha gomen, spicy greens, which were delicious. I also had injera. Kittee has a recipe for injera fakeouts in the zine, but I could not find teff flour even when I walked backwards and forwards the entire length of Cambridge chiz chiz, so I will have to order it online. In the meantime I used another recipe I found in this book, which used millet flour instead. God: injera is delicious. It is like an oatcake or a big fermented pikelet. How lovely does that sound, eh? A big fermented pikelet? Is your mouth watering? It’s like Derbyshire meets Ethiopia.
Best dinner ever and a giant fermented pikelet. Have I converted you all to the veggie cause? I must have done
I shall be making more Ethiopian next weekend – I am going to try red lentils in a spicy gravy, and I am very excited. I may even make the epic trek to Waitrose to see if I can track down any berbere and not have to pay a million pounds for shipping.

Anyway, in conclusion. This zine is great, and you should buy it. It has about 30 recipes, which are all vegan and even gluten free. There are starters, sides, spicy stews and milder stews, and something very exciting involving chickpea fish. It also has loads of notes on everything you ever needed to know about ethiopian food: how to serve it, where to get ingredients, why you should be careful with dachshunds (I cringed), what to do with leftovers, anecdotes, all sorts of things.

And I’m really impressed (says she, non-patronisingly) with the work that must have gone into it. So much research! How many mainstream cookery books have you seen that give you a recipe for niter kibbeh? Have you ever seen Nigella flip an injera? It’s fun to read, as well. Kittee comes across as a nice person. I mean, she might not be: she might be the sort of person who creeps up behind dogs, pokes them in the ribs, and goes ‘woooh!’ as I once witnessed happening to that poor unusually furry guide dog in John Lewis. Or, she might go through doors that people are holding open and not say thank you. We just don’t know. But she’s made a nice zine. So, if you would like to buy one, too, and be cool and ahead of the food pack like me, you can find the details here. And if you find anywhere that sells teff flour or berbere near Cambridge please let me know as I am fed up of going and peering thoughtfully in all the shops on Mill Road. I’m worried they’re getting suspicious.

(I mowed the lawn and did a zumba class! I’m so on a roll).

6 comments:

Stitched Together said...

I completely agree about learning to cook vegan if you are vegetarian. If you need to replace meet to get your protein then cheese is not the healthiest option. Chick peas are your friend as a vegetarian as are lentils. The great thing is that now everyone in the UK has discovered the joys of Indian cuisine it is really easy to get all the spices you need to make vegan food taste amazing. Do you remember vegan food in the 80s. It wasn't great. Plenty of wholegrains, not a lot of spice. Vegan food these days is fantastic and it has certainly lent plenty of interest to the modern vegetarian food you get in pubs and restaurants now. Yesterday I had an amazing blackbean and lentil shepherds pie with root vegetables and a potato and cauliflower mash on top. That was in a pub that do "sizzling" dishes! That NEVER would have happened 10-15 years ago. You would have been offered vegetarian lasagne if you were lucky! Cheese is great, but it shouldn't be your only source of protein!

Stitched Together said...

I completely agree about learning to cook vegan if you are vegetarian. If you need to replace meet to get your protein then cheese is not the healthiest option. Chick peas are your friend as a vegetarian as are lentils. The great thing is that now everyone in the UK has discovered the joys of Indian cuisine it is really easy to get all the spices you need to make vegan food taste amazing. Do you remember vegan food in the 80s. It wasn't great. Plenty of wholegrains, not a lot of spice. Vegan food these days is fantastic and it has certainly lent plenty of interest to the modern vegetarian food you get in pubs and restaurants now. Yesterday I had an amazing blackbean and lentil shepherds pie with root vegetables and a potato and cauliflower mash on top. That was in a pub that do "sizzling" dishes! That NEVER would have happened 10-15 years ago. You would have been offered vegetarian lasagne if you were lucky! Cheese is great, but it shouldn't be your only source of protein!

poopiebitch said...

Great review! I love Papa Tofu, and wholeheartedly agree that all people - especially vegetarians - should learn to cook vegan. It will expand your food mind! I'd also like to add that I have met Kittee, and she is even nicer in person than you could possibly imagine.

Anonymous said...

Love your post, the food looks delicious. I disagree with your first comment though, vegan and vegetarian food was better years ago. It is terrible now, little more than side dishes. Wholegrains are what I want to eat, they are much nicer usually and are better for you. It was a plus that you used to be able to get them more easily. And the bean and lentil Shepherds pie is right out of the eighties and I'm still eating food like that. You usually have to make it yourself though, which is best anyway.

It is really hard to get vegan food in this country and if you are caught short in most places you have to go hungry. I don't see why we should be apologetic about the food either. Nut roasts are yummy, and so is brown rice!

Hazel said...

Thanks for this. I'm a very long time veggie, and a bit bored in the cooking department. So some new inspiration is much needed!

Hazel said...

I can confirm that Trumpington Waitrose have Berbere!!! It's in a small tin by Bart spices in the row beneath the Waitrose own organic herbs and spices!