Ethiopian-Style Vegetable Stew with Chicken


Back in the 80’s when I was growing up, all of the news broadcasts covered the famine in Ethiopia. The only food in the famine-stricken areas were the handouts supplied by aid workers. The images of starving children in Ethiopia is something that I still carry around with me.

Up until recently, the only things I could associate with Ethiopia were famine, endless human misery, World class runners, and Lucy. This was due to my own ignorance. Ethiopian cuisine is relatively new to me, but the flavors are vast, simple, yet complex at the same time. I particularly love the dishes that contain a myriad of well-toasted spices.  

This Ethiopian-inspired dish is based on the curried vegetable stew, known as aleecha. Many of the recipes out there include cauliflower, but I omitted it, and added chicken to make it a complete dinner for us. Potatoes, carrots, cabbage and chicken are seasoned and simmered to perfection. The resulting dish is slightly sweet from the carrots and cabbage, and well-spiced from the cumin, turmeric and black pepper. It reminds me of good and hearty comfort food, which is perfect for the cold winter months.



Serves 3-4



  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper*
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin*
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric*
  • 3 whole cloves*
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger*
  • 400 g (14 oz, about 4 medium carrots), cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) chunks
  • 400 g (14 oz) white cabbage, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) wide strips
  • 600 g (21 oz, 1 ⅓ lb) small waxy potatoes, cut into halves or quarters
  • 2 large, skinless, boneless, chicken thighs, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) chunks
  • 480 ml (2 c) hot water, or as needed
  • Salt to taste

* Feel free to adjust the amounts to your taste accordingly.



1. Heat olive oil in a wok or large frying pan until hot.

2. Sauté onions until aromatic and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add black pepper, cumin, turmeric, cloves, ginger and salt. Stir for 1 minute.

4. Add carrots, potatoes, cabbage and chicken, stir for about 2 minutes.

5. Add water, stirring to ensure everything is coated with the seasoned water.

6. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes stirring occasionally, or until potatoes are tender**. Adjust seasoning if required and enjoy!

** Add more water as necessary. I prefer the stew a little dryer, so towards the end, I remove the lid and let most of the moisture evaporate – it’s your call.

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