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Potatoes and cabbage in ginger turmeric sauce (Atakilt)

Atakilt means "vegetable" and this dish is part of the ethnic cuisine during times of fasting. Ethiopia boasts of having one of the oldest recorded histories of Christianity in the world, dating back to the 4th century. The strong religious base is submerged in ritual, and most Orthodox Christians fast about 250 days of the year, abstaining from meats, dairy and eggs. This has led to an established vegetarian cuisine in the country that is delicious and simple.

This simple dish is a wonderful example of this vegetarian cuisine. Light, delicate and aromatic, the combination of soft potatoes and leafy cabbage is wonderful. The aroma of turmeric encompasses this dish making it irresistible. This is a lovely side dish for any occasion.

This is a new Ethiopian cookbook and one that is filled with traditional recipes that delight the palate. Yohanis Gebreyesus has trained in some of the best French culinary schools in the world and after working in California moved back to his home country to start his restaurant. His mission is to bring the cuisine of Ethiopia to the world, and this book is just that. It is filled with the standard traditional recipes, and also some newer recipes from his family. This is a wonderful cookbook for those who want to experience and learn about Ethiopian cuisine at home.

For more recipes from the lovely cookbook, click here.


3 tablespoons oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 head green cabbage or Savoy cabbage

5-6 baby potatoes, halved or quartered longitudinally

1 cup water + as needed

Salt, to taste

Heat the oil on low in a wide pan or wok. Add the onions and sauté till they are soft and translucent about 4 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute till the ginger no longer smells raw.

Add the turmeric and pepper and give a quick stir to mix the spices in well. Add the cabbage and stir fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes to get the leaves to wilt.

Add the potatoes, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Stir well to mix in the spices and coat the vegetables. Simmer closed till the potatoes are cooked through, about 25 minutes. Check the water after 15 minutes and add a touch more if needed. Taste and adjust the salt. You are looking for a very thick gravy that coats the vegetables well. The sauce should not be runny.

Serve hot garnished with cilantro.

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