the taste space

The Best Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Split Pea Puree)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on May 21, 2012

Have I hooked you onto Ethiopian food yet? If you like Indian curries, you’ll also likely really enjoy Ethiopian cuisine with its spicy, saucy stews (known as wats). Making it at home means you can vary the level of spice to your own palate. However, not all Ethiopian foods are melting from hot spices. Not everything has berbere in it.

As I said, when I tried a platter of assorted Ethiopian dishes, I was immediately enamored with the creamy split pea puree, also known as kik alicha. It was calm and comforting; soothing with its use of savoury spices. It contrasted well against the fiery hot wats and faux meats. Ethiopian food is usually very affordable, but I knew I could make a bean dish like this easily at home. I just needed a recipe.

I originally made the kik alicha from Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food but found it too savoury with its use of cinnamon, etc. Not that it was bad, it just wasn’t the dish from the restaurant that I was pining. Next, I tried the version from Olive Trees and Honey which had simpler ingredients: split peas, onion, garlic, and oil. It also called for a chile and I obliged by using one green chile.  With the bountiful onions and garlic, this was flavourful, and not spicy at all with only one green chile. Mild, but not distracting. Creamy yet not oily. This was how it was meant to be.  To make it even more luscious, puree the dish or partially mash.

Here are some other Ethiopian dishes you might enjoy:

Ethiopian Lentils in Berbere Sauce (Yemiser W’et)

Ethiopian Warm Cabbage and Green Beans

Fasoulia (Ethiopian Carrots and Green Beans Simmered in a Tomato Sauce)

Ethiopian Split Pea and Kabocha Squash Stew with Collards

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s My Kitchen, My World for Ethiopia and to Cookbooks Sundays.

Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Split Pea Puree)
Adapted from Olive Trees and Honey

2 large red onions, chopped (300g)
1 tbsp oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 cups water
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 green chili, deseeded and minced (optional, add to taste)
1 cup yellow split peas, soaked overnight and rinsed

1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften.

2. Add the oil and when it begins to sputter, add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the water, turmeric, salt, pepper, and the optional chile. Cover and bring to a boil.

3. Add the split peas, return to a boil and partially cover, reduce heat and maintain a simmer until the peas have softened, around 45-60 minutes. Watch to see if you need to add more water. Mash the peas if you desire. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

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13 Responses

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  1. Flavors of the Sun said, on May 21, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Janet, I also love Ethiopian food. I spent a lot of time in Kenya and sought out Ethiopian wats when I could. But I have never tried this particular dish. You have inspired me, yet again.

  2. Dawn said, on May 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    YUM Janet. This looks fabulous. It sounds like you got it just right.

  3. Joanne said, on May 21, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    I haven’t had Ethiopian food since college and I think I’m LONG overdue. Thanks to you I can just make it at home and know it will be delicious.

  4. [...] goes into my food. I can control the amount of oil and veggies. I know that I can make a luscious Ethiopian split pea puree without gobs of oil, but do people at restaurants know that? At M&B Yummy, the food [...]

  5. nancy at good food matters said, on May 23, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    delicious food–Ethiopian cuisine is like no other—injera made from tef, berbere spice mixture, wats, fasting foods–no meat. Your recipes look wonderful.

  6. [...] this trio of recipes from this week (Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Kik Alicha) & Fasoulia (Ethiopian Carrots and Green Beans Simmered in a Tomato Sauce)) along with the [...]

  7. Couscous & Consciousness said, on May 26, 2012 at 5:20 AM

    Oh yeah, I could eat this by the bucketful!! Looks and sounds absolutely wonderful – creamy and comforting, with just a hint of spiciness. Yum.

    Thanks so much for sharing at Cookbook Sundays.

    Sue xo

  8. Kahakai Kitchen said, on May 27, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    This looks creamy and hearty–perfect comfort food. Thanks for sharing with Souper Sundays. ;-)

  9. Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook said, on May 28, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    I’ve never tried Ethiopian food, but you’ve hooked me. This dish look delicious!

  10. [...] Onions (Mujaddara, Mengedarrah) – Sephardic Green Beans and Carrots with Tomatoes (Fassoulia) – Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Yemesir [...]

  11. [...] Double Pea Stew with Apples Iraqi Eggplant and Seitan Stew Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Kik Alicha) Ethiopian Split Pea and Squash Stew with Collard Greens Swedish Yellow Split Pea Soup with Dill at [...]

  12. […] 7. Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Kik Alicha) […]

  13. […] Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Kik Alicha) […]


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