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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yenqulal We't (Egg Sauce)

"Yenqulal We't may be used as a substitute for meat stews for people who don't eat meat.  When properly cooked, it can be much more delicious than meat stews." ~ D. J. Mesfin, Exotic Ethiopian Cooking, p. 144

This was all but an unmitigated disaster.  Not because of the yenqulal, which came out perfectly, but because of injera drama.  Perhaps I got a bit cocky.  I have made several great batches of injera since the CT families' Ethiopian holiday party; indeed, I haven't had a flopper batch in the bunch!  I even went to the Ethiopians' preschool to make injera, successfully, I might add!  

I'm not professing achievement of injera perfection, mind you (though, according to a picture in one of the Ethiopian's books, my first injera attempt looked much closer to perfection than it did when compared to restaurant injera); I was just churning out perfectly good injera.  

Until Sunday night, when I made the yenqulal.  

I had such high hopes.  Sunday morning, the dough was looking great!

And it smelled great, too.  This time, I had made it with teff instead of buckwheat flour, as I had finally run into Whole Foods to grab some before the weekend.  That seems to have been the downfall, as it was the only variable that I had changed.  Whereas my buckwheat injera batches had been spongy, bubbly, and light, the teff injera was flat and rubbery.  

It was awful.  I was more than a bit ticked.  I tried running off a quick batch of batter using half teff and half buckwheat, which improved things somewhat, but I wasn't getting the great bubbles and as spongy a texture as I was looking for and it hadn't fermented, so it tasted like we were eating with bland pancakes.  It was better than the 1/4 teff injera (in the injera recipe I've been using, from Lucy's Legacy, there are 2 parts of self-rising flour, 1 part all-purpose flour, and 1 part teff flour), but it was still a huge disappointment.  

But back to the yenqulal, which is really meant to be the subject of this post, not my miserable injera.  

This was a super-easy recipe and combined some of the best parts of one of my favorite dishes: the red sauce and the eggs from doro we't, except only egg yolks were used, and they were mashed.  I'm not sure if it was "properly cooked" (as quoted at the top of this post), but it sure was tasty.  

I started with the onions:

While the onions were dry sauteeing, I also boiled the eggs:

After the onions were browned, some water was added, then the berbere and the nit'ir qibe.  

At this point, I let the yenqulal simmer while the eggs finished boiling.  After they were done, I removed the yolks.

The yolks were mashed, some water was added to make a paste (though I was also cooking some minchet abish for my husband, who hates eggs, and my paste ended up being a bit lumpier than it probably should have due to my multitasking).  

The paste was added to the berbere mixture, as was some red wine and the spices: ginger, black pepper, and salt:

moving clockwise from bottom left: black pepper, salt and ginger

That's it!  Aside from the berbere, there aren't even really any exotic ingredients in this dish, and it's pretty quick and easy to throw together.  Though I think I'd like it a bit more with some whole hard-boiled eggs added to it, like in doro we't.  And I'm going to have to start dialing back the the berbere a little bit because the current bag that we're using seems to run a lot hotter, measure for measure, than the earlier bags of berbere I had.  Even my husband is asking for me to dial it back some, and he buys hot sauce by the gallon.  

This was the point where I started cooking the injera and realized that it was going to be a colossal failure, which really tainted my enjoyment of our little Ethiopian night.  I'm going to go back to the buckwheat version and play some more with adding in teff.  Or perhaps I'll try a different recipe altogether.  


  1. Hey Sheila Wow you are amazing.
    I think you have everything for great injera.
    From the look of your injera, the absit and batter (lit) proportion is off a bit.
    Try like for a quart of batter (a cup of absit). Absit = 1 cup water + 1 tsp lit. About 3 min simmer.
    The consistancy of the batter need not be runny.
    Good Luck Again.

  2. well, I'm pretty sure your injera would still have been better than my injera :)

  3. Thanks, Anonymous. I'm learning! Sometimes too slowly for my tastes, but if I look at what I started with, I can see the progress.

    And Claudia, thanks for reminding me what I ended up with the first time I made injera. It adds perspective! I need to keep the same attitude I had back then, the attitude of adventure and attempt. I've somehow gone back to my comfort zone of "want perfection...now!". :)