Aleecha Recipe: Authentic Ethiopian Vegetarian Dish


Aleecha Recipe: Authentic Ethiopian Vegetarian Dish
Region / culture: Ethiopia | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet



Aleecha is a vibrant and flavorful mixed vegetable stew that hails from the heart of Ethiopian cuisine. This dish is a testament to the rich culinary traditions of Ethiopia, offering a unique blend of spices, vegetables, and textures. Aleecha is not just a meal; it's an experience that brings together the simplicity of vegetables and the complexity of Ethiopian spice blends. This recipe is designed to guide you through creating your own Aleecha at home, inviting you to explore the depths of Ethiopian flavors from your kitchen.


The origins of Aleecha trace back to the diverse culinary landscape of Ethiopia, where vegetables and spices play a central role in daily meals. Historically, Aleecha was a way to make use of available vegetables, creating a nutritious and satisfying dish that could feed many. Over time, it has evolved, incorporating different vegetables and spice blends, reflecting the regional variations within Ethiopian cuisine. The use of Quemam, a unique Ethiopian spice, or its substitute, berbere, highlights the adaptability and innovation within Ethiopian cooking traditions.


How to prepare

  1. Aleecha is a mixed vegetable stew. If you cannot find Quemam, you can substitute it with dry berbere spice mix. Start by stir frying the onion, garlic, and carrots in a dry pan over moderate low heat for 2 minutes. Then, add 0.5 cup of water and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Next, add the oil and continue to simmer.
  2. After that, add the turmeric, chilies, and cabbage. Cover the pan and steam for 2 minutes to reduce the bulk. Stir well and add the quemam, tomato paste, salt, and potatoes.
  3. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Finally, add the remaining water and simmer for another 5 minutes to soften the potatoes and thicken the sauce slightly. Serve the stew at room temperature with Injeera.


  • Aleecha can be adapted to include a variety of vegetables based on availability and preference. Common variations include adding eggplant, green beans, or bell peppers. For a non-vegetarian version, you can include pieces of lamb or beef.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your Aleecha is as authentic and flavorful as possible, consider these tips:

- Slowly build the flavors by sautéing the onions, garlic, and carrots until they are just soft, allowing their natural sugars to enhance the dish.

- Use a moderate amount of oil to prevent the vegetables from sticking, but not so much that the dish becomes oily.

- Adjust the heat level to your preference by varying the amount of fresh hot green peppers.

- Be patient when simmering the vegetables, allowing them to become tender and absorb the rich blend of spices.

Serving Suggestions

Aleecha is traditionally served at room temperature with Injeera, an Ethiopian sourdough flatbread. The Injeera not only complements the flavors of the Aleecha but also serves as a utensil for scooping up the stew.

Cooking Techniques

The key cooking technique for Aleecha is the slow simmering of vegetables, allowing them to soften and meld together with the spices. Stir-frying the initial ingredients before adding water helps to build a flavor base that infuses the entire dish.

Ingredient Substitutions

If Quemam or berbere spice mix is not available, a combination of paprika, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper can be used as a substitute. Additionally, sweet potatoes can be used in place of regular potatoes for a different flavor profile.

Make Ahead Tips

Aleecha can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days. The flavors often deepen when the stew is allowed to sit, making it even more delicious when reheated.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Aleecha in a large, shallow bowl to showcase the vibrant colors of the vegetables. Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley for an added touch of color and freshness.

Pairing Recommendations

Aleecha pairs well with a simple salad dressed with lemon and olive oil to balance the richness of the stew. For a drink, consider a light, crisp white wine or a traditional Ethiopian honey wine called Tej.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store Aleecha in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, gently warm it on the stove over low heat, adding a little water if necessary to prevent sticking.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Aleecha is relatively low in calories, making it an excellent option for those monitoring their calorie intake. The exact calorie count can vary depending on the specific quantities and ingredients used, but a typical serving is around 200-300 calories.


Aleecha is a carbohydrate-friendly dish, primarily due to the presence of vegetables like carrots and cabbage, and the addition of potatoes. A serving of Aleecha provides a moderate amount of carbohydrates, essential for energy. The dietary fiber from the vegetables also aids in digestion and provides a sense of fullness.


The fats in Aleecha come mainly from the corn oil used in cooking. Corn oil is a source of healthy unsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health. The overall fat content in Aleecha is moderate, making it a heart-healthy choice when consumed in appropriate portions.


While Aleecha is primarily a vegetable stew, it provides a modest amount of protein from the vegetables. To increase the protein content, consider adding legumes such as lentils or chickpeas, making it a more protein-rich meal.

Vitamins and minerals

Aleecha is packed with vitamins and minerals, thanks to the variety of vegetables used. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Cabbage and green peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C, essential for immune health. The dish also provides a range of minerals, including potassium and iron.


Aleecha is naturally free from most common allergens, including dairy, nuts, and gluten. However, those with specific food sensitivities should review the ingredients list carefully and make substitutions as necessary.


Overall, Aleecha is a nutritious and balanced dish, offering a good mix of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. It's low in calories and allergens, making it suitable for a wide range of dietary preferences and needs.


Aleecha is a testament to the rich flavors and nutritional benefits of Ethiopian cuisine. This mixed vegetable stew is not only delicious but also versatile, allowing for various ingredient substitutions and variations. Whether you're an experienced cook or new to Ethiopian dishes, Aleecha offers a delightful culinary adventure.

How did I get this recipe?

I recall the feeling of curiosity that washed over me when I found this recipe for Aleecha. It was many years ago, during a trip to Ethiopia, that I first tasted this delicious and fragrant stew. The flavors were unlike anything I had ever experienced before, and I knew that I had to learn how to make it myself.

I remember sitting in a small restaurant in Addis Ababa, surrounded by the sounds and smells of a bustling marketplace. The fragrant aroma of spices filled the air, and I watched as the chef skillfully prepared the dish in a large pot over an open flame. The colors and textures of the vegetables, lentils, and spices were mesmerizing, and I knew that I had stumbled upon something truly special.

After finishing my meal, I approached the chef and inquired about the recipe. He smiled warmly and invited me into the kitchen to watch him cook. As he worked, he explained each step in detail, from the selection of ingredients to the cooking process itself. I took notes furiously, trying to capture every detail so that I could recreate the dish at home.

When I returned to my own kitchen, I gathered the ingredients and set to work. The scent of onions, garlic, turmeric, and ginger filled the air, transporting me back to that bustling marketplace in Addis Ababa. I added in the carrots, potatoes, and green beans, letting them simmer in the flavorful broth until they were tender and aromatic.

As I tasted the finished dish, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment. The flavors were just as I remembered them – rich, spicy, and comforting. I knew that I had unlocked a new culinary treasure, one that I would cherish and share with my family for years to come.

Over the years, I have continued to perfect my recipe for Aleecha, tweaking it here and there to suit my own tastes and preferences. I have shared it with friends and family, who are always amazed by the unique blend of flavors and textures. Each time I make it, I am reminded of that fateful day in Addis Ababa, when my curiosity led me to discover something truly special.

I have since learned that Aleecha is a traditional Ethiopian dish, typically made with a combination of vegetables, lentils, and spices. It is often served as part of a larger meal, accompanied by injera, a spongy flatbread that is perfect for soaking up the flavorful broth.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned this recipe, and for the memories that it brings back every time I make it. It has become a staple in my cooking repertoire, a dish that never fails to impress and delight. I hope that one day, my grandchildren will learn to make Aleecha as well, passing down this culinary tradition for generations to come.


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