Tinsae Elsdon’s Atkilt Alicha

11 February 2019 Tinsae Elsdon

Tinsae Elsdon’s Atkilt Alicha

Tinsae Elsdon

Tinsae Elsdon’s Atkilt Alicha

2 large brown onions, sliced
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
3 medium carrots cut into large chunks
4 small potatoes,
cut into large chunks
2 cups water
½ large red capsicum, sliced thickly
1 cup green beans, topped and tailed and cut in half
½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
½ large green chili,
deseeded, chopped
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
1 spring onion, sliced
¼ teaspoon korerima (Ethiopian cardamom)

Place the onions and oil in a large frying pan and cook, stirring continuously on medium heat for about 10 minutes until translucent.
Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric.
Add the carrot and keep stirring for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the potato and a splash of water, and stir before covering the pan for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the moisture evaporates.
Add the rest of the water, cover and turn down the heat. Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the potato softens, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the capsicum and green beans. Add salt to taste.
Garnish with the green chili, coriander leaves and spring onions. Sprinkle with korerima.
Serve with injera (Ethiopian flatbread) or rice.

I was born in Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, and came to Australia in 2008. I came with my husband and we settled in Sydney. At the moment, we’re in the Blue Mountains. It’s very different to Addis Ababa but there are also a lot of similarities – we have a lot of eucalyptus trees back home and I didn’t realise until I came here that the eucalyptus trees in Ethiopia originally came from here in Australia. So it’s the perfect place for us to settle.
Food and cooking in Ethiopia is a social activity. We cook it together. My mother would cook with her sister, my aunty, and we children would help as well – I might chop the onions and peel the potatoes. People might come over or the whole family would sit down and share the food. There’s always lots of different dishes to share, meat dishes as well as lots of vegetables.
A lot of our cuisine, like Atkilt Alicha, is vegetarian. Growing up my mum would cook it three or four times a week. She was often unwell, so would cook it because it wasn’t spicy – it has less chili than many other dishes, and has lots of turmeric instead – and is really healthy because of the mix of vegetables. Atkilt Alicha is basic Ethiopian cuisine and it really reminds me of home. It’s easy to cook and is really yummy.
We eat our food with injera, a soft flatbread. It’s prepared over three days so it can ferment. A lot of the time we’ll put the different food on top of the bread and then take a little bit of injera and dip it into different sauces using our hand.
In Sydney, I’m involved with the Africultures Festival. I serve traditional Ethiopian coffee and food. I also run cooking classes and I hold pop-up kitchens and secret dinners, sometimes at my home.
It’s important to pass down family recipes. Every time I cook these foods, it takes me back in time, to lots of childhood memories. Even the smells are evocative. I’m trying to teach the girls in my community and my daughter how to cook these dishes. It’s so important.

Photo by Ruth Yigletu