Spiced Ethiopian Chickpeas Side Dish - an easy vegetarian Ethiopian recipe to serve over injera (a traditional Ethiopian flatbread) or with some rice. Adjust the spice level to your liking! This recipe contains berbere, a traditional Ethiopian spice, as well as a few other spices to give this dish lots of flavor.
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Disclaimer time: This recipe is probably not an authentic Ethiopian recipe. But it is so darn good.
These Ethiopian chickpeas are inspired by recent meals we've had at Ethiopian restaurants, and I feel that the flavor and ingredients are very similar to what we would get when we go out for Ethiopian food.
If you've never had Ethiopian food, you are missing out!! It is one of my favorite types of food. Everything I've ever ordered an an Ethiopian restaurant is always so mind-blowingly delicious and always feels like comfort food.
This is because most Ethiopian food is served family-style on large trays covered with injera, which is a type of flatbread / crepe made from teff flour. And all of the food is meant for sharing and for wiping the plate clean with injera.
A lot of Ethiopian side dishes are vegetarian, so this easy Ethiopian chickpeas recipe is inspired by that.
I am definitely not a vegetarian, but I never miss the meat in these types of hearty, flavorful, filling recipes.
How to make this easy vegetarian Ethiopian chickpea recipe:
You'll start by sauteing diced onion with a few Ethiopian spices. Then add some vegetable broth and the rest of the ingredients and let it all simmer for a half hour until the carrots are cooked through and the chickpeas have taken on all of the delicious flavors from the spices.
This recipe only requires about 15 minutes of hands-on time. The rest of the time the pot can simmer on low heat while you prepare the rest of your dinner.
How to serve these Ethiopian chickpeas:
The traditional way to eat Ethiopian food is with injera.
Injera is a type of flatbread or crepe made from fermented teff flour. You would serve heaps of stewed meat, spiced vegetable side dish onto this flatbread on a large platter, and serve the platter family-style in the middle of the table.
People use injera instead of utensils to eat, scooping up bits of food with the soft crepe-like bread which has a wonderful sourdough flavor.
This injera recipe from The Spruce Eats is a good one if you want to give it a try.
The only problem with injera is that you have to start preparing the batter a couple of days in advance to let it ferment, so it does take some planning ahead.
This is why I often serve Ethiopian food with rice, quinoa, amaranth, or couscous - mostly Western-style side dishes. It's just so much easier this way, and I still get to enjoy all my favorite Ethiopian flavors without having to plan ahead for days.
This chickpea side dish recipe would go great next to this Ethiopian Chicken Stew recipe I have:
You can also make this Ethiopian cottage cheese with collard greens recipe as an appetizer for your dinner, if you're feeling fancy. It's a very easy and very healthy recipe!
The spices used in this recipe:
- Berbere is the most well-known traditional Ethiopian spice. It is a blend of other spices, in the same way that curry is a blend of spices that is used in Indian cooking. Berbere is pretty spicy, and the heat comes from ground chili peppers. If you are not into spicy food, you might want to reduce the amount of berbere for this recipe - you can always add a pinch at the very end if you decide you want more spice!
- Smoked Paprika. While this might not be traditionally Ethiopian, I use paprika in this recipe to add more flavor without adding too much heat. The paprika mellows out the Berbere seasoning and adds a lovely subtle smoky flavor to the dish.
- Ground turmeric. Turmeric is one of my favorite ingredients. It is PACKED with antioxidants and so good for you, and it gives food a gorgeous yellow color. Be careful, it will give your hands and your countertop that same gorgeous yellow color! I find that turmeric doesn't have too much flavor on its own, which is great for mixing it into lots of recipes for that antioxidant boost.
- Ground coriander. I personally love love love coriander seeds. Yes, coriander seeds are from the same plant as cilantro / coriander leaves! But they have a totally different flavor than the leaves, and they are so versatile and used in so many cuisines.
- Ground cumin. Cumin is another ingredient that adds a lovely smoky flavor to dishes. It's not spicy, it's just pure flavor. And I love using cumin for cooking for that reason.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please let me know with a comment and a star rating below! And don't forget to save the recipe on Pinterest for later:
Ethiopian Chickpeas - Easy Vegetarian Ethiopian Recipe
- 1 small yellow onion , diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon berbere
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika will work too)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 14-oz can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
- 3 small-medium carrots , chopped into 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 teaspoon salt , or to taste
- 2 cups baby spinach
- In a large saucepan or a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the diced onions. Saute for 2 minutes, then add all the spices - berbere, coriander, cumin, paprika, and turmeric. Saute the onion in the spices for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Lower the heat if it starts to smoke a lot.
- Add the chickpeas, chopped carrots, vegetable stock, and salt. Stir well, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer uncovered for about minutes, or until the carrots are fully cooked and there is only a little bit of the liquid left.
- Taste the broth and add more salt if needed. Turn off the heat and stir in the baby spinach until it is wilted. Serve over couscous, rice, quinoa, or with injera.