A white (faranje) adoptive mother to two Ethiopian (habesha) girls wends her way through
Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D. J. Mesfin

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Suff ("Refreshing Drink Made from Sunflower Seeds")

"Suff is a delicious, refreshing drink consumed primarily during Lent or fasting.  The liquid can be mixed with injera to make Yesuff Fitfit." ~ D. J. Mesfin, Exotic Ethiopian Cooking

This Friday's dinner (Yegebs Siljo, or barley paste) has a few steps to it and it has to sit for three days, so I needed to get started early.  The first step involved making barley flour, which I'm totally game for, but, unfortunately, I don't have a flour mill and couldn't find one locally (a neighbor suggested using my coffee grinder, but I think grinding up four cups of flour is too much to ask of it).  By the time I get a flour mill in, it will be too late for this recipe, so I simply bought another package of barley flour at the store.  Easy enough!

The second step was discovered as I read through the ingredient list for the yegebs siljo: sunflower juice.  A Google search yielded not sources, but recipes, including this one.  If you have a chance, visit the blog of the person who submitted it, Yewoin's Family Cooking.  It's in my sidebar, but I felt it deserves special mention, as it's truly the real deal: an Ethiopian woman and her recipes.  

This was the recipe I used, though I later discovered that there is a recipe in Exotic Ethiopian Cooking, on page 72.  Of course there is.  I do wish this book was cross-referenced; it would make some things much easier!

There wasn't much to this recipe.  You get some sunflower seeds (raw, I assumed):

Bring them to a boil for 15 minutes:

Drain them:

Throw them into a blender with some more water:

And blend:

After blending it, you need to sieve the liquid to remove the sunflower seed mush:

It looks like sunflower milk!

At this point, you're supposed to add some rue (also known as "tena adam" in Ethiopia).  The recipe I referenced above mentioned using rue or ginger, so I went with the ginger.  I think I'm going to have to convert one of my raised beds into an Ethiopian herb garden this summer!  And maybe another into a teff field.  

I just peeled the ginger on the non-nubbly sides and dropped it into the sunflower juice.  The instructions state that when you're ready to drink it, you add sugar or honey to taste.  The two-year-olds demanded a taste and I forgot to sweeten it for them; it didn't go over very well.  I haven't yet tried it because I want to make sure I have enough for the yegebs siljo! 


  1. I'm supposed to be on my way to bed but i stopped by the wide horizon yahoo group saw your post about your girls and then the title of your blog and had to check it out.

    what a wonderful site! I'll be back to check soon but just had to say what a great idea and i really look forward to reading and learning!

    my alarm is set for 4:45 so i'm off to bed now....

    happy cooking!

  2. Thanks, Kristine! I'm having a great time with this and I'm glad you came and checked it out.

  3. The sunflower seed here is nothing like the Ethiopian suff. The flavor of suff is much superior.

    If you find real Ethiopian suff here is how I know to make Ye-suff juice. Roast the suff lightly, grind it, mix that with water to to a ratio of 1 cup suff to 3 cups water, let it sit for a day in the fridge and you have ye- suff-weha (suff-water). Power carefully to keep the residue at the bottom and enjoy.

    1. I meant to say Pour carefully.