Posted November 22nd
We sat down with Adey Foods owner and Nibble Chef Meqdes Mesfin to discuss her upcoming Ethiopian cooking class, her culinary skills (her culinary hacks as well!), amongst other things.
Nibble: So Meqdes, How did you learn to cook?
Meqdes: This sounds cliche, but I learned a lot from my grandmother. Perhaps not so much the details of recipes and such, but the resourcefulness, the innovative qualities. In very traditional society where she was raised, creativity, particularly in the kitchen, was not really a thing. She was considered a lady, and ladies didn’t cook, but she didn’t have a problem getting her hands dirty. She would come up with her own creations and actually felt very comfortable being the one who produced those creations. That’s who my hero is in this world, and in the world of the cooking.
Nibble: Not cliche at all. Our stomachs are thankful that you took after her! And how did you get involved with the Somerville Arts Council?
Meqdes: I had been wanting to introduce Ethiopian food to the mainstream market for a long time. Not that [the mainstream market] didn’t know Ethiopian food, but it wasn’t readily available. Part of the reason I started [Adey Foods] was because I wanted Ethiopian food to be more out there, to be more readily available, for whomever wanted it. For at home and for eating out. I looked for opportunities and resources that were out there to help bring my ideas to life. It might have been a google search, I can’t quite remember, but I found Nibble. I reached out via email last Spring and we set up a meeting. That meeting led to our first cooking class in the Spring. And here I am leading my second.
Nibble: We’re excited to have you! Speaking of your second cooking class, What can people expect for your class?
Meqdes: I’m hoping that people will have a good time eating food that they enjoy, but also that people will get a flavor of the process that’s involved, which ingredients are used, and where the ingredients are sourced, so that they could incorporate this knowledge and lessons into their own homes.
People will come away with a better idea of the ingredients—like qoolait, for example—that really make a difference in Ethiopian cooking. Ethiopians use a lot of onions in their cooking, and qoolait is the end product of cooking those onions to the point where it’s hard to tell it was once a fresh onion. Also, coffee is a big deal in Ethiopia, and we’ll spend some time talking about Ethiopian coffee culture. Overall I hope that it will be an experience that people will enjoy!
Nibble: Even though I just ate lunch, I’m hungry again! Last thing, what’s your favorite thing to make in the kitchen?
Meqdes: One of my favorite dishes to make is called shiro wat.
It’s a highly nutritious vegan dish that’s popular all year round. The dish starts with shiro powder, a blend of dried, ground chickpeas, lentils, and peas. I’ll toast a blend of spices in some oil, then add the shiro powder, and then add
water and let it simmer. You can also use clarified butter but then it’s not vegan. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes, and when its done, it’ll have a similar consistency to pea soup. That’s it! You eat it with injerra and it’s really high in protein because of the chickpeas and lentils. I’ve had friends tell me they’ll bring it backpacking because it packs light and packs a lot of good protein!
Nibble: Thanks you Meqdes for bringing you culinary knowledge and skills to the Nibble Classroom.
Check out all the delicious menu details and grab your Ethiopian cooking class ticket here. Following the class, we’ll sit down together and eat family style while learning more about Ethiopian cooking and culture.