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Ethiopia

Eva has loved Ethiopian food since she was about 5 years old. So this week, we finally got to Ethiopia in our alphabetical cullinary Tour du Monde. As she is such an Ethiopian food fan, I decided to go all out and make an Ethiopian Extravaganza. Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa next to Djibuti so it was not surprising that both countries serve food on sourdough type of pancakes made with fermented batter. Whereas the Dijibutian Laxoox are made with millet, whole wheat and regular flour, the Ethiopian version is called Injeera and is with an ancient grain called Teff – many people seem to cut it with white flour too. Like in Djibuti, people eat with their hands, pulling off pieces of the Injeera and using it to grab the food on their plates. Definitely appealing to kids. If you don’t like spicy food, no worries, these dishes should be fine. For all of you vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free eaters out there, Ethiopia is definitely the country for you! Ethiopia is a fairly poor country and meat is a luxury there, eaten on special occassions. We made one dish, Doro Wot, that had chicken, but that actually could have been made with eggs, and in fact the 2 following days, we ate an egg version and liked it even better! If you make all of the dishes, I recommend making all of them except the Gomen ahead of time (although that reheats well too). The batter for the Injeera needs to be made 2 days ahead, but the pancakes are best fresh.

Each recipe was easy enough, I just went a bit overboard making all of them at once which was a bit challenging. If you do make this, you should plan to start your Injeera 2 days ahead. It was definitely a bit of a discovery for me as I am not a lentil expert nor have I sauteed onions without oil before. As I discoverd, after the fact, the recipe I had for the Injeera was incomplete – so my 1st day attempt was a bit of a disaster – but edible. Totally on me – I trust the book I use, but should have done a bit more research beforehand and watched Ethiopian moms and grandmas preparing the dish first. But hey…I was able to do a reasonable save and on day 2, the Injeera tasted how they should have 🙂 A big thank you to my brother’s friend Tizze, who is Ethiopian, an awesome cook was our personal consultant for the meal with dish suggestions and the key advice to buy the Berber (their main spice blend) on-line, rather than make it. As some of you may remember, I had tried making spice blends in the past for several countries…do-able, but not worth the effort – so even though I was tempted to do it again, buying it ready made was the best decision. Here is a little preview of what we had. One interesting thing that I realized both about Ethiopia Estwani and Egyptian food, is that whereas much of the world tends to sautee our onions and garlic in oil, these countries dry sautee everything first – in other words, they put the onions in a pan with no oil. It was different. It smelled very different too.

Recipes and step by step directions to be linked soon.

Gomen: sauteed greens with tomato, onion and garlic.
Misr Allecha – Egyptian Lentils (red lentils)
Fassolia – Green beans & carrots with ginger and garlic
Doro Wot – Chicken and eggs in a classic Berber sauce (this can be made as a vegitarian dish)
Azifa – cold green lentil salad
Injeera – the spongy fermented bread made with the ancient grain called Teff

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