This humble but enticing dish of potatoes, cabbage, and carrots cooked in a mildly spicy and extremely flavorful mix of ginger, turmeric, and pepper is inspired by a traditional Ethiopian vegetable stew called tikil gomen. It is definitely one of those easy dishes that tastes like way more than its individual parts. Traditionally a player on a vegetarian platter, known as fasting foods, I've been known to serve this winningly simple dish alongside lentils, grilled meats, roasted chicken, or broiled fish, all to great effect.
Note that while this dish is delicious with just a tablespoon of butter or oil, the flavors really jump if you're willing to up it a bit!
- Prep the aromatics: Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel the garlic cloves and smash them with the side of a chef's knife, the flat side of a meat tenderizer, or the bottom of a small frying pan.
- Melt the butter or heat the oil in a large frying pan or medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and salt and cook, stirring frequently. After 1 minute, add the smashed garlic. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 2 more minutes.
- While the onion cooks, prep the vegetables: Cut the cabbage in half, if needed, cut out and discard the core, and then chop the leaves into bite-size pieces. Peel the potatoes and chop them into bite-size pieces. Peel the carrots and cut them into bite-size pieces. Having the potatoes. cabbage, and carrots all more or less the same size is part of the final charm of this dish, so keeping them all roughly similarly sized is a good idea. Set all of the vegetables aside.
- Add the ginger, turmeric, and pepper. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the shredded cabbage, stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the cabbage starts to wilt, about 3 minutes. Stir, cover, and cook until completely wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped potatoes, carrots, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. If necessary, cook with the cover off to reduce liquid before serving.