Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quanta Firfir

After being a vegetarian blog for 2 1/2 years, this is the first-ever meat recipe.

Why? Because no single food is more uniquely, awesomely, authentically Ethiopian than quanta firfir. Not only that, but it's really uncommon here--even among Ethiopian restaurants.

When I first moved to Ethiopia, I hated this dish. Injera topped with injera, I used to call it. My logic was that it was like having a burrito stuffed with old tortilla bits. But as the months passed, I came to to love this big, scrappy mess of a meal. I eventually found myself manically craving quanta firfir when I was forced the indignity of going a couple days without. This dish, usually eaten at breakfast, is a particularly potent hangover cure.

Note that we're not fucking around here. This meal isn't for amateurs. It's easy to make, but you need to plan ahead, and you have to love, love, LOVE injera.

Before you can even make this recipe, you need to have some old injera on hand. Take that injera and tear it into bite-size pieces (roughly 1-2 inch squares). Set it all out on a cooling rack or some other place where it can dry completely. You'll also need to make a batch of the stuff fresh for this meal. It's a lot of legwork, but you can also pick the stuff up easily enough if you live near an Ethiopian restaurant or grocer. (Tell the proprietor you're making quanta firfir and you'll probably get invited to their house for the next holiday. Like I said, this isn't amateur shit.)

Prep time: 1 cup of coffee, preferably Ethiopian Yirgachefe

2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic
2 TBSP berbere
2 cups water
2-3 ounces beef jerky, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (use only plain jerky; not anything flavored, like teriyaki)
1 tsp salt
3 big handfuls fully-dried injera that has been torn up into bite-size pieces
A couple hard-boiled eggs, peeled (optional)
Fresh injera for serving

Heat a dry saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sweat them, without any oil, until they become translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add oil and saute another couple minutes. Add half the garlic and saute yet another couple minutes.

Add berbere and continue to saute. The mixture will start to stick. When it does, add a couple TBSP of the water. Repeat this process until you only have 3/4 of a cup of water left. Then add the water, the rest of the garlic, beef jerky, and salt and immediately remove the pan from the heat and let rest for 60 seconds.

Now stir in the injera chips VERY GENTLY, so as not to break them. Continue to stir gently until all the liquid is absorbed. The injera should be pretty spongy, so if it isn't, stir in a bit more water.

Serve with the eggs on top and, well, more injera (fresh injera this time). 


  1. THANK YOU!!! I love this dish and have been looking for a recipe. I dried injera today with hopes of making it tomorrow. Will also post my love of the results!

  2. I have made this now a number of times and love it. Thank again for sharing the recipe. Fir Fir to me is comfort food. A little like French Toast with that concept of using up the leftovers. Everyone in the family will eat this dish every time it is made.
    I have cooked it both with berbere powder as well as paste and prefer the later. Would you be interested in posting a berbere paste recipe? I would be happy to share mine.
    My next step is to use the recipe bones to make yemiser wat. Here's to delicious food!

  3. Thanks for the comments! Glad you like it. I actually have an awaze (berbere paste) recipe posted here:, though after living in Ethiopia a couple years, I don't think I ever saw anybody use if in firfir. But if using it is something that you like, all the better. I'll try it myself next time!

  4. ቋንጣ ፍርፍር is the one true firfir. All others are pale imitators.

    Also hey Spencer looks like I stumbled on your blog at random