At Bati Ethiopian, Vegetables Star on the Plate—Here’s What to Order


In our fall travel issue we wrote about the hands-on research and family history behind two of the traditional Ethiopian meat dishes — kitfo, or minced raw beef seasoned hot chilies and spiced clarified butter, and the chicken stew called doro wett — served at Bati Restaurant in Fort Greene.

As owner Hibist Legesse explained, these are considered special occasion food in most parts of Ethiopia, where the majority of meals are vegetables, grains, pulses and legumes. Many of those dishes are not just vegetarian but vegan — prepared without any animal-derived fats or dairy — so that they can be eaten on the nearly 200 fasting days that are observed according to Ethiopian Orthodox Christian church.

As a result, they are seasoned instead with citrus, spices and chiles, and are richly and complexly flavored. At Bati, they are not sides or accompaniments, but entrees in their own right, and they deserve to be highlighted here. Shown clockwise from the top above — with the kitfo in the center and atop a layer of the fermented bread called injera — are:

  • Gomen: finely chopped collard greens with garlic and ginger and fresh jalapeños.
  • Tikil go men: green cabbage and carrots, seasoned with garlic and ginger.
  • Missir wett: split lentils stewed with berbere, Ethiopia’s all-purpose spice and dried chile blend.
  • Buticha: ground dried chickpeas cooked until creamy — almost like polenta — with a blend of onion and pepper.
  • Ater kik alicha: spiced split pea stew.
  • Key sir: cubed beets and potatoes marinated in lemon, onion and jalapeño. (Above right is the crumbled white cheese used for topping the kitfo.)

And not shown, but equally as delicious:

  • Shiro: ground chickpeas in a mild sauce
  • Azifa: green lentils mixed with ground mustard seed, jalapeños and lemon juice, served at Bati as an appetizer.
  • Ye timatim fitfit: a a salad of chopped tomatoes, chilies and rags of injera.
  • A vegetarian kitfo made with mushrooms, slices of jalapeno and tomatoes.

Photo credit: Janelle Jones

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