Ethiopian Greens for New Year’s Day

As New Year rolls around, my thoughts drift back to my Southern childhood. We always had at least one of the following greens, turnip greens, mustard greens or collard greens, on New Year’s Day. Very often turnip greens and mustard greens were cooked together. If we had collard greens, they weren’t mixed with another type of green. The Christmas ham bone would go into the pot with the greens. The greens would be cooked down and the potlikker would be sopped up with corn bread.

My grandparents and Great Aunt Hazel always said it was important to eat greens for prosperity, i.e. dollars, in the New Year.

While I still have greens on New Year’s Day, I often try something new.

Here’s a spicy collard green recipe, Ethiopian style for New Year’s Day.

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 pound of collard greens, washed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of niter (Ethiopian spiced butter) or ghee. Use vegetable oil to make vegan
  • 2 teaspoons of peeled grated ginger, about 1 1/2 inches of fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, about 4 to 5 gloves of garlic (I use a garlic press.)
  • 1 cup chopped white onion, about 1 medium onion – a yellow onion will work fine as well
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (Use 1 for less spice and 2 for more spice)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or chipotle
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or more or less taste (optional)
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Large skillet, wooden spoon, knife, cutting board, microplane grater


  1. Have all the ingredients ready to go. This is a stir fry and you don’t want anything to burn.
  2. Over medium high heat, let the niter (or ghee or vegetable oil) come to a shimmer in the large skillet.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeño, cumin, cardamom, paprika, sauté for about 30 seconds, careful not to let the ingredients burn.
  4. Add the onion to the spices in the skillet and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
  5. Add in chopped collards, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice to the skillet. Sauté for 7-10 minutes until flavors have blended and greens are cooked.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Remove from heat and serve.


Kale or cabbage would also work with this recipe.

This can be made vegan by using oil instead of niter or ghee.

Photo by Emilia Czarnota on

2 thoughts on “Ethiopian Greens for New Year’s Day

  1. Well I learned something new today as I have never heard of eating greens for prosperity. In Italy we’ll have lentils and cotechino, a type of fatty sausage (sliced into rounds) and that is our take on prosperity.

    Liked by 2 people

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