Soul Full

An Ethiopian cook finds inspiration in her mother’s recipes, including this nourishing stew.

Soul Full

An Ethiopian cook finds inspiration in her mother’s recipes, including this nourishing stew.

Yeshi Desta of My Mother's Kitchen is a natural entertainer: her Ethiopian home-style food catering company evolved from cooking her mother’s recipes and bringing friends together to enjoy them. Originally from Gonder, in northern Ethiopia, Desta moved here 18 years ago and has always loved sharing her country’s cuisine and culture with New Zealanders.

“I love setting up a long table for people to eat together and everyone has been so accepting,” says Desta of the food she prepares, a mix of vegan, vegetarian and meat-based dishes, some of which are spicy, and others not. My Mother’s Kitchen is based in Auckland – keep an eye out for her next pop-up.

Kik alicha

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced 

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp minced ginger 

1 can chopped tomatoes

2 cups dried yellow split peas, soaked for 1 hour 

4 cups water

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp salt, or to taste

1 fresh green chilli (optional), chopped

What to do


1. In a large pot, add oil and onion, and sauté over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for 4 minutes or until the onion is transparent, then add chopped tomatoes and leave to cook for 8-10 minutes.


2. Drain the split peas in a colander and add to the pot with water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Add turmeric and cook for another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the split peas turn into a slightly soft, yellow stew. Salt to taste and cook for an 3-5 minutes.


3. Remove from heat and add chopped green chilli and serve. Traditionally, you serve kik alicha with injera, and Ethiopian fermented flat bread. However, it also goes well with all kinds of breads and rice. Enjoy. Serves 4.

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