Mixed Vegetables in a Spicy Tomato Ethiopian Kulet Sauce

Mixed Vegetables in a Spicy Tomato Ethiopian Kulet Sauce

Much like Indian cooking, the preparation of Ethiopian lentil and vegetable dishes depends on a blend of both hot and aromatic spices. And like Indian food, the dishes are best served in serving bowls where communal diners can each enjoy a helping of everything that is served.

And just as much as garam masala could be considered the all-purpose spice blend of Indian cooking, berbere is the same for Ethiopian food. A unique mix of dried chilies and a number of aromatic seeds and spices ground into a powder and sometimes mixed with water and oil into a paste, berbere is the colorful and distinctive foundation of so many Ethiopian dishes that I keep homemade batches of it on hand as an essential part of my pantry.

Berbere and tomatoes form the basis of "kulet", a sauce that is widely used for simmering lentils and vegetables — and meat too, if you're so inclined — in Ethiopian cooking. In this dish, an assortment of fresh vegetables are cooked in a hot, tangy and fragrant kulet sauce, providing me and my guests with an attractive and delicious addition to an Ethiopian-style dinner. In fact, the vegetables may have been the star of the evening.

Vegetables in a Spicy Tomato Ethiopian Kulet Sauce

Note: it is possible nowadays to buy decent store-bought brands of berbere in supermarkets and specialty stores but, as is usual with spice blends, it is quite easy and more satisfying to make your own at home. Best of all, if you make up more than you need for your dish, it keeps well in a sealed glass jar for a good few months.

Mixed Vegetables in a Spicy Tomato Ethiopian Kulet SauceMixed Vegetables in a Spicy Tomato Ethiopian Kulet Sauce
Recipe by
Adapted from Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking
Cuisine: Ethiopian
Published on July 2, 2019

Mixed vegetables cooked in a thick, spicy and aromatic Ethiopian tomato sauce

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 3 tablespoons berbere powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon hot paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 6 cup chopped mixed vegetables (I used green beans, button mushrooms, potato and bell peppers)
  • 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, stir in the onion and sauté until the onion softens and begins to brown, roughly 10 minutes.

  • Toss in the the garlic, ginger and red chili, and stir for another minute. Add the tomato, reduce the heat to medium, and cover. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes, taking care to stir often.

  • Add the berbere, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cardamon, cloves and basil, and stir well to combine. Stir in the chopped vegetables, adding the ones that take longer to cook first, along with the water or stock. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to medium, and cover. Simmer, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 20 minutes (add any vegetables that take less time to cook after about 10 minutes). Add more water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

  • Stir in the salt and serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Mixed Vegetables in a Spicy Tomato Ethiopian Kulet Sauce

Other Ethiopian dishes to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Ethiopian-Style Red Lentil and Okra in a Spicy Tomato Sauce
Ethiopian Lentil & Mustard Salad (Azefa)
Chickpeas with Mixed Vegetables and Berbere Sauce
Ethiopian-Style Hummus

Audio Accompaniment: MemoryHouse by Max Richter

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