Oakland's Sheba Aims to Make Ethopian Botecha and Wat as Ubiquitous as Hummus

shebawat.jpg
Tamara Palmer
Sheba's wat, a yellow split pea sauce.
​A recent addition to the refrigerated cases at Rainbow Grocery is a line of ready-made Ethiopian sauces and dips from Sheba in Oakland (not to be confused with the town's Queen of Sheba Market). We made embarrassingly quick history of Sheba's wat (a yellow split pea sauce that manages to offer a buttery, whipped potato flavor, though those ingredients aren't there) and botecha (a take on hummus made with olive oil, chickpea flour, shallots, garlic, and jalapeƱo). On a good day in the bread aisle, you can also find Sheba's injera, a soft and springy bread made with teff flour, and use it as the main vehicle for these condiments, but they're also completely at home spooned over tortillas, pitas, or directly into the mouth. As parts of America catch up to "exotic" items like kimchee or chimichurri, it's encouraging to see these Ethiopian staples start to emerge on local shelves as perhaps a first step for the rest of the country.

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