Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Dal)

We haven’t had Ethiopian food since we made a special stop at Zemam’s restaurant in Tucson when our first daughter was a year old.  That was such a wonderful experience and all the food was so healthy and delicious.  I’ve cheated here; we didn’t have Teff flour (or the time) to make injera bread, so we substituted Indian naan bread.  I also served it with basmati rice, because we love the flavor of basmati with dals.  The entire family ate this meal, including my three-yr old.  Awesome.  The special Berbere’ spice blend recipe, as well as the dal recipe, comes from the Happy Herbivore cookbook.

Prepping the Berbere’ with all 12 spices


2 tbsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground fenugreek
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Mix all spices together in a nonstick skillet and toast, stirring frequently, until spices are fragrant.  Remove from heat and grind the blend into a fine powder with mortar and pestle or, as I did, with a high-powdered blender.  Store in an airtight container.


Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Dal)
Cuisine: Ethiopian
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups dried yellow split peas
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ - 1 tsp Berbere', or to taste
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp mild curry powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Bring the 6 cups veggie broth to a boil and add the split peas.
  2. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. While the split peas are simmering, saute onions and garlic in a nonstick skillet until onions are translucent.  Add spices and thoroughly mix to coat the onion.
  4. Add onion mixture to split peas and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring and scraping the peas to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Taste and add another ⅛ - ¼ tsp Berbere' if desired.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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