This is the January 2006 issue of the Low Budget Vegetarian newsletter.

This issue includes:
- site update - previous newsletter issues now online.
- Looking Back
- Fenugreek
- Eritrean/Ethiopian Spice Patterns
- some new Recipes


Site update - previous newsletter issues now online.

On the Articles page of the web site, I have added links to copies of online versions of previous issues of this Newsletter. I include a brief description of the topics included in each issue.


Looking Back...

I have had this low budget vegetarian website going for a few years now. It's been growing gradually, and I am adding new recipes and articles, learning things as I go along.

If I look back over this period, I can see that there hass been a shift of the main focus on the site. I am finding myself spending less time focusing on the Low Budget part, and more time focusing on good, plain vegetarian cooking.

I think I can sum up the secret of good, Low Budget Vegetarian cooking in just a few sentences -

*Processed foods are expensive.*
*Unprocessed, whole vegetarian and grain foods are the most economical and nutritious foods you can buy and prepare.*

That is why I don't emphasize recipes using processed ingredients, or vegetarian recipes that are trying to act like meat recipes you are replacing. (I have one exception later in this newsletter, but I think of it as an indulgence rather than as main fare.)

That is why I keep coming back to Rice, Beans, Vegetables. Stick with those three and you will be about as Low Budget as you can get. As you master cooking them, You will also enjoy eating more than you ever have before.


Discovering Eritrean and East African cooking

My wife and I found a fun new restaurant in our neighborhood, here in Northeast Minneapolis. Grand Central Grill used to belong to an Italian family, who recently sold it. The new owners are from Eritrea, in East Africa just East of Ethiopia, and they have added an Eritrean section to the menu along with the Italian and American standards.

Fortunately, several of their entrees are completely vegetarian, and I enjoyed them enough that I figured out how to cook reasonably close versions of some of their dishes. That's what I am going to be exploring in this issue.



Ground fenugreek is one of the distinctive spices in Eritrean cooking. Fenugreek is a legume, small and sandy yellow. It has a spicy-sweet smell, and it adds a distinct sweet richness to cooking. It goes especially well with ground coriander, which it complements.

Fenugreek is also used in Indian cooking - it is one of the spices in panch phoron, Indian Five Spice, along with brown mustard seeds, fennel, cumin and nigella.

Fenugreek is also used as a nutritional supplement - nursing mothers take fenugreek to increase lactation, and it is also used to lower blood sugar. (Note that these uses of fenugreek have not been medically verified.)


Eritrean and Ethiopian Spice Patterns

A lot of Eritrean cooking is quite spicy. The distinct hotness of their cooking comes from a mix of hot red pepper, black pepper, and ginger - you really need all three to give it the right bite. The fiery red color in some Eritrean and Ethiopian sauces is from either large amounts of red pepper, or a mix of red pepper and papkrika if you don't want it quite so incendiary. For the red pepper, I have used either ground cayenne, or ground mexican chiles like guajillo or new mexico chilis.

Along with the hot spices, the other main distinctive spices in Eritrean cooking are garlic, ground fenugreek and coriander. Ground cardamom also works well.

While Eritrean cooking is known for being very hot, many of the vegetarian dishes I have tried are mild and subtle. The spice mix is basically the same with the hot peppers omitted - ginger, garlic, fenugreek, coriander. These flavors go well with rich oils, like sesame oil, peanut oil or butter.

Eritrean food is traditionally eaten by hand with injera, a distinctive soft sourdough flatbread somewhat similar to a thin buckwheat pancake. If you can't find injera, the dishes go well with soft pita, or just eaten with a fork with rice on the side.


Here are some new recipes, based on Eritrean dishes I have had in restaurants and using their distinctive spice patterns.

In keeping with the Eritrean theme for the month, the recipes I have added to the site all use Eritrean spices.

- Buttery Eritrean Greens (Hamly) - http:/
- Savory Potatoes and Carrots (Alicha) - http:/
- Eritrean Hot Bean Dip (Shiro) - http:/

And finally, a work-in-progress recipe, using mock duck to emulate a well known African dish.
- East African Mock Lamb Stew - http:/


And that is all for this month.

Happy and healthy eating to you, and best wishes for the New Year.

Charlie Obert


Low Budget Vegetarian Survival