Ethiopian Sloppy Joes

December 7, 2010 | By | Comments (12)


This is my adaptation of a traditional Ethiopian dish called dinich wat.  It is a favorite of my family.  If I make enough to actually have leftovers the next day, my kids have been known to argue over who gets them.  I double this recipe for my family of 10.

Preparation Time: 50 minutes

Serves 6

  • 2 large onions
  • 6 potatoes
  • 1 pound ground beef, already browned
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 to 3 tsp cayenne pepper (add gradually, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water

Cook ground beef in a large heavy skillet and set it aside.  Wipe excess grease from skillet .  Peel onions and puree them in a food processor (or mince them very fine). Peel and mash garlic. Peel and chop potatoes into 1 inch cubes.

Heat oil in a large skillet and add pureed onions. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown a little.  Add garlic, tomato sauce, water, and potatoes.  Add the ginger, turmeric, cayenne, pepper and salt.  Mix well. Add cooked ground beef. 

Stir and cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes.  The mixture will look a little watery at first, but water will gradually evaporate as potatoes cook. Add the butter during the last few minutes of cooking.  If potatoes stick to the bottom of the skillet even after adding butter, add another 1/2 cup of water and turn down the heat a little.  Dish is done when potatoes are cooked through. 

Serve hot over injera or rice, or on toasted hamburger buns.  (Or serve it alongside a nice green salad.)


Note: If you happen to have berbere, a traditional Ethiopian seasoning, you may use it (to taste) in place of the  cayenne, ginger, and turmeric in this recipe.  I used 2 generous tablespoons of berbere when I made this recipe yesterday for my spice-loving family. 


  1. MarcyM

    I’ll be going to Ethiopia for the first time in February on a mission trip. I can’t wait to give this a try before I go.

    December 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm
  2. Beth Miles

    Mary, do you make injera? Or do you buy it? I’m interested in trying it with this recipe, but the process to make it seems a bit lengthy. Can you get it anywhere here in IDAHO? :) Do your girls make it?

    December 9, 2010 at 6:44 am
  3. Mary Ostyn (Owlhaven)

    Beth, you can sometimes get it at an ethnic grocery store in Boise on Overland. We make it at our house too. One of these days I’m going to post a tutorial with pictures. I did also include a link to a ‘cheater’ recipe in this post. Not quite authentic, but acceptable! :)

    December 9, 2010 at 7:16 am
  4. Beth Miles

    Awesome. I think it’s gonna be a hit!

    December 9, 2010 at 10:43 am
  5. Heather

    Does this have regular potatoes like Russett or are they sweet potatoes? In the picture, they look like sweet potatoes…

    December 26, 2010 at 2:06 pm
  6. Mary Ostyn

    They’re regular potatoes. It’s the seasoning that gives them that color.

    December 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm
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  9. benazirkhan

    i have made this it is very yummy

    October 12, 2015 at 1:39 am
    • Jessica Colyer

      So glad you enjoyed it! :)

      October 15, 2015 at 10:45 am
      • benazirkhan

        I make my own berebre and niter kibbeh plus I eat it on injera I make my own

        October 15, 2015 at 11:10 am
      • benazirkhan

        I know how to make the quick injera plus Marcus Samuelson has a great injera recipe he is Ethiopian when his dad died sadly of tb he was then adopted by some people from Sweden who were very nice to him plus he is a chef he is well worth checking out and he has a great shiro recipe too it is chickpea flour it is bought at any Indian Pakistani store under the name of besan

        October 17, 2015 at 3:13 am

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