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Let’s do lunch: atkilt alicha

Categories: Product stories

Hot and sour cabbage stew from Ethiopian Flavours

We've raved about Ethiopian Flavours before: the stews, the spice, the strange, spongey injera you both eat and eat with. We've been blown away—almost literally, it is that hot—by the berbere-spiced beef. But Ethiopian cuisine is not just about kai wot, as that stir fried beef dish is known.

Far from it: meat is as much a luxury there as it is, or should be, in the rest of the world, and in fasting periods all dishes are vegetarian. It was with less...carnivorous intentions that we visited the bright, fiercely aromatic stall for a second lunch innings.

We came for the ye kik alich’a, split peas, and the misir kik we’t, lentils. We came for the aromatic butter, the nit’ir kibe, in which they are steeped. “David makes it himself at home,” says Mahari on the stall, “using all different spices”. Indeed, between the spiced butter and the sweet and sour stew he uses many spices. “I can't name them all, even in my own language,” she grins.

A healthy lunch
The dishes are popular among regular customers, as a healthy lunch that can be enjoyed daily. The food served here is made fresh with Borough Market vegetables each morning, and is gluten free provided you steer clear of the injera. It's a fun and surprisingly satisfying choice for those avoiding meat altogether, or reducing their intake.

We’re big fans of gluten ourselves—though rice is available and smells great, we love the liberating feeling of dispensing with cutlery, tearing off hunks of slightly sour, crumpety injera and scooping up mouthfuls of ye'atakilt alich'a, hot and sour carrot and cabbage stew.

This is not first date food. It is food to sustain you: to nourish you, excite you and transport you in one mouthful. And that, on a casual Thursday lunchtime in London, is quite something to achieve.