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Alicha, also known as wat, is a delicately seasoned Ethopian stew or casserole. One of the positive attributes of this dish is that it may be prepared using meat of choice, or it can be kept purely vegetarian. Further, it may even be adapted to suit the vegan palate. A simple preparation enriched with delicate flavours and smooth textures makes for a delightful addition to any meal.

Ingredients and Preparation

Main ingredients are vegetable oil, red onions (chopped), garlic, chopped new potatoes, carrots, a small cabbage, chili peppers, (baby red or birds eye for a hot flaovr and possibly jalapeno if a milder variety is desired), salt and pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, parsley, and basil chopped.

Chopped onions and garlic are first sautéed in heated oil until transparent. Chopped vegetables are added next and cooked till softened. Pepper, cardamom and nutmeg are added and the mixture is allowed to slow cook for at least about half an hour. A final seasoning with salt to taste and then chilli, parsley and basil just before serving, completes the dish.

For a non-vegetarian Alicha, meat pieces may be introduced along with the vegetables.

Nutrition Information

A single serving weighing 430 g provides-

• A total of 259.1 calories, with 48 calories coming from fat.

• Total fat content of 5.3 g, saturated fat 0.8 g.

• Cholesterol content is 0.0 mg.

• Sodium content is 72.7 mg.

• Total carbohydrate content of 49.6 g with 9.7 g dietary fibre and 11.7 g of sugars.

• Protein content is 6.8 g.

Nutritional Enhancement

1.Protein content may be enhanced not only by meat inclusion for non-vegetarians but also by use of cottage cheese or tofu pieces for vegetarians and vegans. Tofu has several health benefits including cholesterol lowering effects, cancer-protective benefits, weight loss and anti-osteoporosis functions especially in post-menopausal subjects.

2.Addition of meat would elevate the cholesterol and saturated fat content of the dish. Hence, instead of meat, boiled egg whites and steamed fresh fish (salmon, mackerel, trout etc) that provide superior quality proteins and at the same time much lesser fat and cholesterol (almost 0 for egg whites) and healthy omega-3 fats (from fish) are best alternatives. These are not only heart-healthy but owing to the high protein value make the dish suitable for athletes, body builders and those with high protein demand.

3.Beetroot may be added to this dish to bring about an all new colour and appearance to the dish. They also form a good source of Vitamins A, C, folate, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper and dietary fibre. Along with other phytonutrients - carotenoids as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, beetroots offer a range of health benefits to counter anemia, constipation, kidney and gall bladder concerns, skin problems, cancers and cardiovascular diseases.