Friday 19 April 2019

Gomen Wat (Ethiopian Braised Collard Greens)

I'm excited for this recipe because this is one of my favourite Ethiopian dishes. It's nothing too fancy, just cooked greens. Personally, I love greens and I eat them every week. Collard greens, kale, chard, dandelion greens... any dark green, broad leafed vegetable. They're fantastic for you and while they may not be a favourite among picky eaters, I find them quite delicious. Gomen Wat is essentially the Ethiopian version of that. It's a quick and easy side dish to put together. 

Usually when I cook collard greens I stack the leaves and roll them into a big cigar shape so I can easily cut them into ribbons (this is called a "chiffonade"). Then I fry up some onions, garlic and usually chili pepper before adding the sliced collard greens and wilting them down for a few minutes. Literally a few minutes. I don't let them get mushy. When most green vegetables get cooked at a moderately high heat their green colour intensifies then after a while it starts to turn a grey-ish green. I always prefer to serve them at that intense green phase. Plus it goes without saying that it's healthier that way. 

The preparation for gomen wat has many similarities to what I just explained, but I prefer mine with a couple of rules broken. First, I like to roughly chop my collard greens so that they're in small pieces instead of ribbons. Doing so I find makes it easier to eat with injera, which is traditionally used to eat with your hands. Ribbons are better for eating with a fork. Whenever I've had gomen wat made by actual Ethiopans the greens were chopped in this manner. I also cook the collard greens quite a bit longer than I normally do. But they still don't quite get to the mushy, grey-ish green phase. There's a 10-15 minute braising period applied to the greens. For this I prefer them a bit softer. Feel free to cook them as long as you prefer. Same goes with the greens, you can absolutely substitute kale, chard or anything similar. 


2 bunches of collard greens (I counted exactly 16 leaves)
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp green chili, minced (optional or to taste)
1 tomato, chopped
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup (or as required) water of vegetable stock
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Warm a pot over medium heat and add 2 tsp of oil. Sautée the onion, garlic, ginger and chili until the onions begin to soften and go translucent. 

Add the chopped tomato, ground cardamom, salt and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes. 

Remove the collard greens from their stems and chop finely. Add them to the mixture. 

Add a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of water or stock. Then cover and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Stir a couple of times in between. It may look as if the pot in the picture above was too small, but greens shrink quite a bit when they wilt. 

Cook them to your liking. I like mine about here:

If the finished wat is too wet (lol) you can simply drain before serving. I usually use a pair of tongs and let any excess water drip back into the pot before plating. The cardamom and the ginger really give the greens a fantastic flavour that I'm not used to when I usually make them. No matter what you're eating, it's great to have some greens on the side. They're no exception here. 

Feel free to play around with this recipe. It's very versatile. You can add or remove anything you like. You can eat greens frequently and never have to eat them the same way twice. That's one thing I love about them. Life is all about taking the healthiest foods and making them taste good. This recipe does just that. 


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