Ethiopia Collards

Jeff & Linda's Kitchen of Diversity

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Collards with Spiced Cheese (Yegoman Kifto)


This is without a doubt our favorite way to eat collards, with the spiced cheese and butter playing off the bitterness of the collards in a most addictive way.  While it is possible to make this dish with dry ricotta or cottage cheese, we prefer making our own cheese.  This is simply done by heating buttermilk to a simmer.  At high temperatures the acids in the buttermilk cause the milk proteins to solidify into curds, exactly as one does when making ricotta, although in that case the acidity comes from added lemon juice.  All that needs to be done at that point is to drain off the whey by pouring the entire mixture through cheesecloth or muslin, letting the curds remain behind.  After an hour or so of draining, the remaining solid cheese ball with very small curd is flavored with spiced butter, garlic, cardamom, and white pepper.   This cheese (which looks very much like scrambled eggs) is then mixed into the cooked collards, with the entire mixture being eaten at room temperature.

If you would like to try to make a vegan version of this recipe, you could consider making the cheese from freshly drained soy curds (see our DIY Tofu recipe) which have been solidified using lemon juice rather than nigiri.  Also, you’ll need to swap out the spiced butter for spiced vegetable oil.  Makes 6-8 cups.

Spiced Cheese

3 quarts buttermilk

¼ cup spiced butter, melted

2 garlic cloves, pressed

¼ teaspoon whole cardamom seed, ground

½ teaspoon whole white pepper, ground

1 teaspoon salt

Pour buttermilk into a heavy 6 quart casserole, and gently bring to a boil over moderate-low heat, about 30-45 minutes.  The milk will separate into white curds and clear whey when done.  Ladle the curds into a cheesecloth or muslin-lined colander.  Let drain for 5 minutes, then wrap the cloth into a bundle.  Tie at the top with a long string, and let hang over the sink to continue draining for another 30 minutes, or until it reached room temperature.

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Unwrap the cheese and crumble it into a bowl.  Mix in the melted butter and remaining ingredients together and toss with the cheese until all the curds are evenly coated.  Cover with plastic wrap.

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Cooked Collards

2 pounds fresh collards, stems removed and coarsely chopped

¼ cup spiced butter, melted

2 tablespoons stemmed and deseeded finely chopped hot green chili

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root paste

1 tablespoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon whole cardamom seed, ground

¼ cup yellow onions, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Cook prepared collards in a large pan until they are wilted and tender, about 15 minutes.  Add in the remaining ingredients and stir-fry until the onions are tender.  Remove from heat.

When the cooked collards cool to near room temperature – about 15 minutes – toss in the spiced cheese.  Serve at room temperature.

We recommend use of a standard larrge collard for this recipe like Georgia Southern Creole or Morris Heading.   Use a pungent yellow onion like Australian Brown and a nutty garlic like Himalayan Red.