Try this savory Ethiopian Chickpea “Fish” and Sauce!

Have you ever wanted to try something new in the kitchen, something that will excite your taste buds and your imagination? Well, look no further than this recipe for Yeshimbra Assa! This Ethiopian dish features chickpea “fish” and a flavorful sauce that will transport you straight to the bustling streets of Addis Ababa.

As a home chef who has always been fascinated with different cultures and cuisines, I am constantly on the lookout for exciting new recipes to share with my friends and loved ones. Yeshimbra Assa is one such dish that not only tastes amazing but also tells a fascinating story about Ethiopia’s rich culinary traditions.

Ethiopian cuisine is known for its bold flavors, use of spices like berbere, and unique cooking methods. This recipe incorporates all of those elements while also using chickpea flour in place of actual fish, making it perfect for vegetarians or anyone looking to switch up their protein sources.

So join me in exploring the world of Ethiopian cooking with this delicious Yeshimbra Assa recipe. It’s easy to make, full of flavor, and sure to impress your guests at your next dinner party.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Yeshimbra Assa -- Ethiopian Chickpea
Yeshimbra Assa — Ethiopian Chickpea “fish” and Sauce

Dear food lovers,

Let me share with you a recipe that will transport your taste buds to the rich and flavorful cuisine of Ethiopia: Yeshimbra Assa, the famous Ethiopian chickpea “fish” and sauce dish.

This dish is not only delicious, but it’s also perfect for vegetarians or anyone looking to switch up their meat-filled meals. The chickpea flour used in this recipe gives the dish a unique texture that simulates fish, yet provides an exciting twist on traditional seafood.

The secret to a successful Yeshimbra Assa lies in using authentic Ethiopian spices like berbere, garlic, onions, and white pepper– all of which are included in this recipe. These spices add both heat and depth to the flavors of your dish, making it ideal for those who love a little kick in their meals.

Furthermore, this authentic Ethiopian recipe follows traditional preparation methods as closely as possible. So, cooking Yeshimbra Assa will give you a glimpse into Ethiopian culture through its food. As Ethiopians believe that food unites people and brings happiness to the table, let’s respect that ideology by taking a bite into this homemade Shimbra Asa Wot.

Last but not least, If you’re feeling intimidated by the prospect of branching out and trying something new – don’t be! There’s nothing better than preparing a dish with love for yourself and your loved ones while spicing up your usual culinary routine.

In conclusion, make your next dinner party irresistible with the help of this unique and tasty Yeshimbra Assa recipe. This crowd-pleasing entree is sure to impress everyone at the table while bringing some spice to your mealtime routine!

Ingredient List

 A plate of Yeshimbra Assa, the savory and satisfying Ethiopian chickpea
A plate of Yeshimbra Assa, the savory and satisfying Ethiopian chickpea “fish”.

To prepare YeShimbra Assa, the following ingredients are required:

For the Chickpea Fish:

  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon berbere spice blend
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder
  • Salt to taste

For the Asa Wot (Sauce):

  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp berbere spice blend
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste

Note: Berbere is a spicy Ethiopian spice blend used in many dishes. It is available at Ethiopian stores or online. If you can’t find it, substitute with chili powder.

Chickpea flour is also known as besan and gram flour. It is a versatile ingredient used in many cuisines around the world. It’s gluten-free, high in protein and fiber.

Sharp and fresh garlic coupled with boldly flavored onions are integral parts of this recipe. White pepper adds some heat and earthiness that complements the spices nicely.

The sauce calls for a generous amount of berbere, which gives it its characteristic deep red color and spicy flavor. Be sure to adjust the seasoning of both the fish and the sauce to your liking with enough salt.

The Recipe How-To

 The bubbly and crunchy texture of Yeshimbra Assa will excite your taste buds.
The bubbly and crunchy texture of Yeshimbra Assa will excite your taste buds.

Step 1: Creating the Dough

To begin, we’ll need to make the dough for the “fish.” In a medium mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of chickpea flour with 1/2 tsp. of salt and 3/4 cups of water. Use a whisk to mix everything together until smooth.

Step 2: Prep the “Fish”

After creating the dough, we can start making the “fish.” For this recipe, we’ll be using a special technique called the “shimbra asa” method. Take some of the dough and roll it out into a thin sausage shape. Wrap this around your index finger and use your other hand to flatten it into a small fish shape.

Step 3: Cooking the “Fish”

In a large pot or saucepan over medium heat, bring roughly 6 cups of water to a gentle boil. Add 1 tbsp. of berbere and 1/4 tsp. of white pepper, stirring until everything is well combined.

Next, gently add each fish-shaped piece of dough into the boiling broth and let it cook for around 20-25 minutes or until firm. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.

Step 4: Making the Sauce

While waiting for the “fish” to cook, we can start preparing our flavorful sauce by sautéing some chopped onion and garlic in a pan with oil over medium-high heat. Once browned, add 1 tbsp. of berbere, along with 1/4 tsp. of white pepper and 1/4 tsp. of salt.

Pour in roughly 2 cups of water, stirring to mix everything evenly, then bring it all to a gentle boil before reducing heat and letting simmer for around 15-20 minutes or until thickened.

Step 5: Adding The Fish To The Sauce

Finally, transfer your prepared fish pieces into the pot with the sauce, using enough liquid to only partially submerge them. Let them cook gently for an additional 10-15 minutes before removing from heat.

Garnish with some fresh parsley or cilantro leaves before serving hot alongside some delicious injera bread or rice!

Substitutions and Variations

 Quick and easy to prepare, Yeshimbra Assa is perfect for potluck parties and busy weeknights.
Quick and easy to prepare, Yeshimbra Assa is perfect for potluck parties and busy weeknights.

There are plenty of ways to customize this Yeshimbra Assa recipe to your liking. Here are some variations and substitutions that you can try out:

– Instead of using chickpea flour, you can use teff flour or a mixture of both for a unique twist on this dish. Teff flour is a staple in Ethiopian cuisine and will add an authentic flavor to the dish.

– If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you can reduce the amount of berbere used in the recipe. Berbere is a spicy Ethiopian spice blend that adds heat and depth to the dish, but it’s not for everyone.

– You can also try making the sauce with different proteins like beef, chicken, or fish rather than using chickpea “fish”. However, in Ethiopian cooking, fish is usually replaced with meat or chicken, as fish is not commonly consumed due to the country’s mountainous region.

– For those looking for a vegetarian/vegan recipe similar to Yeshimbra Assa, there are many mock fish alternatives such as tofu or seitan that you can use in place of chickpea flour.

– You can also play around with the consistency of the batter and sauce by adding more or less water based on your preference.

Overall, these substitutions and variations will allow you to experiment with different flavors and make this dish uniquely yours. Just grab your butcher knife and play around!

Serving and Pairing

 The sauce's vibrant colors will make any dish more appetizing, but it matches Yeshimbra Assa perfectly.
The sauce’s vibrant colors will make any dish more appetizing, but it matches Yeshimbra Assa perfectly.

One of the best things about Yeshimbra Assa is how versatile it is when it comes to serving and pairing options. This Ethiopian chickpea dish goes so well with a variety of different sides and drinks that you can play around with combinations to see which one suits you best.

Traditionally, Yeshimbra Assa is served with injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture. It’s perfect for scooping up the chickpea “fish” and sauce as it absorbs the flavor effortlessly. If you can’t find injera, then any type of bread would also work.

If you’re looking to add some more veggies to your plate, then consider serving Yeshimbra Assa with a side of salad. A light and refreshing green salad or a tomato and cucumber salad would complement this spicy fish dish perfectly.

To cool down the heat from the spices, pair Yeshimbra Assa with a glass of cold beer or a lemonade spritzer. The effervescence from the beer or lemonade will cleanse your palate between each bite, making sure you enjoy every flavor without any masking.

If you’re looking for an extra punch of flavor, try pairing this dish with Ethiopian coffee. The bold flavors of Ethiopian coffee blend seamlessly with Yeshimbra Assa, accentuating its depth making it a great choice for after dinner.

In conclusion, Yeshimbra Assa is extremely flexible when it comes to serving and pairing. You can switch up the sides and drinks to fit any occasion whether it’s lunchtime, dinner parties or just weeknight dinners at home. So go ahead and experiment to make this recipe your own!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 You won't miss the seafood with these crispy chickpea
You won’t miss the seafood with these crispy chickpea “

The Yeshimbra Assa dish can be made ahead and stored for later use. Once the chickpea “fish” is made, it can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

To store the dish in the fridge, first let it cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. When reheating, add a bit of water to prevent the dish from drying out and microwave on medium heat for 2-3 minutes or heat it up on a stove-top using low heat.

In case you want to freeze the Yeshimbra Assa, put the cooked “fish” in a freezer bag or container and remove as much air as possible. When reheating from frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before heating following the same instructions as above.

When reheating any leftovers, keep in mind that adding a bit of water is important since chickpea flour tends to thicken over time. Also, make sure to only reheat what you need instead of the whole batch since this dish tastes best when freshly made.

Tips for Perfect Results

Now that you have all the necessary ingredients and know how to cook Yeshimbra Assa, here are some tips that will help you get perfect results:

1. Use fresh ingredients – Always use fresh onions, garlic, and spices to achieve the best flavor. Old or stale ingredients can ruin the taste of your dish.

2. Do not overcook the chickpea flour – Overcooking the chickpea flour can make it dry and gritty. Once added to the water and spices, monitor it closely and remove from heat once well combined.

3. Add water gradually – When adding water to the chickpea flour mixture in the pot, do it gradually to avoid lumps.

4. Use Berbere Spice Mix – Berbere is an authentic Ethiopian spice blend that gives this dish a unique taste. Use a good quality berbere mix or make your own from scratch using chili peppers, paprika, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices.

5. Adjust spices to your taste – The spice level may vary depending on your preference. If you want it spicier, add more berbere or hot sauce. You can also adjust salt and white pepper according to your liking.

6. Let it simmer for longer- To achieve a richer flavor profile allow the stew to simmer over medium heat for at least 15-20 minutes.

7. Serve with Injera – Injera is a traditional Ethiopian flatbread that pairs perfectly with Yeshimbra Assa. You can find it at any Ethiopian restaurant or make it from scratch following an injera bread recipe.

These tips will give you impeccable results when cooking Ye Shimbra Asa; with all these tips in mind you are bound to master this dish in no time!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Yeshimbra Assa recipe is a must-try for anyone who loves traditional Ethiopian cuisine or wants to try something new and exciting. The unique taste and texture make it a perfect alternative to meat-based dishes, and the berbere and garlic-infused sauce gives it an extra kick of flavor. With simple ingredients such as chickpea flour, water, onions, and garlic combined with spices like white pepper and berbere, this recipe can be cooked at home by anyone.

This dish is perfect for gatherings and parties, served alongside the famous Ethiopian injera bread. With its versatility, you can replace beef or chicken in your curry or goulash recipe with Shimbra Asa to add an extra depth of flavor. What’s more, this recipe fits different dietary needs as it can be vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free depending on how one chooses to prepare it.

Cooking with teff flour is a book that showcases all the unique Ethiopia recipes traditions that one should try out. It includes over 100 recipes for everything from soups to main courses to desserts. If you’re looking to spice up your cooking game and broaden your recipe repertoire, this cookbook is an excellent investment.

As Ralph Fish Castelletti says: “In food as in film noir mobsters—sometimes 1+1=3.” The flavors in Ye Shimbra Asa paired with the injera bread are more delicious than you’d expect. So grab a butcher knife and try it out for yourself!

Yeshimbra Assa -- Ethiopian Chickpea "fish" and Sauce

Yeshimbra Assa -- Ethiopian Chickpea "fish" and Sauce Recipe

This is traditionally served during Lent with a lentil salad and injera.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Ethiopian
Calories 429.1 kcal


For the fritters

  • 3 cups chickpea flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3/4-1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated onions
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • vegetable oil, for frying

For the sauce

  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup berbere
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Sift the flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and the white pepper into a deep bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre and combine 3/4 cup water, the onions and garlic in the well.
  • Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the water and onions and, when blended, beat vigorously with a spoon or knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and can be gathered into a ball.
  • If the dough crumbles, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough comes together.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
  • With a small sharp knife, cut the dough into fish shapes about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. If you like, you can use the point of the knife to decorate the top of each "fish" with scales and fins.
  • Pour oil into a deep fryer or a large, heavy saucepan to a depth of 2-3 inches.
  • Heat until it reaches 350 F and fry the "fish" for 3-4 minutes, turning them frequently until they puff slightly and are golden brown.
  • As they brown, transfer them to paper towels to drain.
  • Once you are done the fish you can make the sauce.
  • In a heavy 10-12 inch wide pan (it's best if it's non-stick), cook the chopped onions for 5-6 minutes until they are soft and dry.
  • Pour in the 1/4 cup oil and when it's hot add the berbere and garlic and stir for a minute.
  • Pour in the 1 1/2 cups water and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened.
  • Season with salt and then place the "fish" in the skillet and baste them with the sauce.
  • Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • To serve, arrange the "fish" on a platter and pour the sauce over them.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 205gCalories: 429.1kcalCarbohydrates: 49.8gProtein: 16.5gFat: 18.3gSaturated Fat: 2.3gSodium: 1794mgFiber: 8.9gSugar: 11.2g
Keyword < 60 Mins, African, Ethiopian, Vegan
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