My fourth grader is adventurous when it comes to food. Outside our home, he is interested in trying foods I don’t cook here and/or what friends and family offer him: clams, hamburgers, lobster, steak, junk food, you name it. At home, I sometimes get a frown when he sees “too many vegetables” at the dinner table. However, I have found a new trick: by serving foods in a different way, Vegan meals somehow become a new, exciting, and enticing dining experience for him. We live in Small Town, U.S.A., so as a food-loving homeschool Mama, one way to open up my son’s world view is through his meals. Dinner served in a thali or tagine or Asian bowl suddenly makes my little guy more inclined to indulge in a whole-food plant-based meal. “What are we eating for dinner?” is a question he asks with sincere curiosity these days. I love that my husband heartily eats up what I serve too. Their willingness allows my family to go on an adventure all around the world while we sit happily in my Vegan Kitchen.
Tonight I cooked Ethiopian food and my son’s approval and willingness to dig in was no exception. This is not to say he will enjoy every mouthful. He may not. He may like some foods more than others. In my view, this is all OK. The introduction to different flavors, spices and textures are all part of his education at my Vegan table.
Tips for Cooking Ethiopian at Home
- the food processor is your best friend: use it to chop onions, garlic, ginger, and carrots quickly
- measure and chop everything you need before you turn on the heat
- be ready for lots of washing up: I used 4 pots and 1 pan for this meal (I wish I had 2 Instant Pots!)
- these were the recipes that I used for:
- no need for oil, just use water to sauté
- Watch the spices for the Mesir Wat. I have my own Berbere Spice Mix and used only 1 Tbsp, which was spicy enough for my son.
- I soaked the split peas for a few hours and used the Instant Pot for the Kik Alicha. I reduced the liquid to 2 1/2 c but that was even too much (look at photo, it is too soupy). If you do use the I.P., I would reduce the liquid to 2 c and cook for 13 minutes.
- Start with Kik Alicha and Mesir Wat as these take the longest, then Atklit Wat, then Gomen, and finally make the Injera.
- You will have enough food for 8 people or dinner for 3 with enough leftovers for at least one more meal.
They ate a lot of it! My family finished off their Atklit Wat and Gomen. My son, who proclaims to not like lentils, ate all of his Mesir Wat. He didn’t care for the Kik Alicha, which my husband liked best of all. They both don’t like the foamy feel of Injera, which is not surprising: it was the same response they had to the bread at an Ethiopian restaurant. I really liked it especially for its distinct authentic sour flavors (YAY!). For me, I enjoyed it all, as well as the experience of eating delicious food with my hands.
I love traveling around the world in my Vegan Kitchen. Not only am I actively advocating for a healthy family, but I am educating my son on the variety of cultural and gastronomical whole-food plant-based cuisines around the world.