Ethiopia

Injera

By Suzannah Schneider | August 12, 2014

Image by Rod Waddington

Injera is the sour, spongy bread that makes Ethiopian food unique. Injera is so intertwined with Ethiopian life and culture that a common greeting among Ethiopians is, “Have you eaten injera today?” The bread is made from teff, which is a tiny, hardy, and calcium-rich grain that is native to Ethiopia. Teff is well-suited to the semi-nomadic life in Ethiopia because just a handful of the poppyseed-sized seeds are enough to sow an entire field. The seed also travels well, and cooks fast.

In Ethiopia, the rich bread is used instead of silverware, and often substitutes as the tablecloth. For a traditional Ethiopian meal, diners sit on a low divan with a mesab before them. A mesab, pictured below, is a handmade wicker hourglass-shaped table with an ornate domed cover. The injera is placed in the mesab with dishes portioned out onto sections of the injera, as shown in the image above.

To eat injera, tear off a piece about two to three square inches, roll up bites of traditional dishes like yamsir wot (red lentils with onion in a spicy sauce) or doro tibs (cubed chicken breast with jalapeño, onion, garlic and green pepper), and pop the roll into your mouth! It is traditional to feed somebody your rolls of food with your hands. This is a sign of respect and love, and the larger the piece the stronger the bond. It may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but it’s an indication of excellent hospitality.

Making traditional injera is a very time-consuming process so most families in Ethiopia buy their supply from tef terras, which are small huts that specialize in making the bread. Women pound teff grains with a stone into a fine powder, then sift the flour to remove impurities. The flour is then formed into a dough with a sourdough starter and set aside for three days to ferment and sour before it is poured into a massive skillet and cooked like a pancake.

This recipe from Soul of a New Cuisine streamlines injera by providing the option of using whole-wheat flour instead of teff flour, adding baking soda for the leaving agent instead of the sourdough starter, and using yogurt for its sour tang.

Injera may seem a bit complicated, but it’s worth because it is so fun to eat. Much of the world is so used to consuming food with cold metal forks and knives; eating with your hands and savoring your utensil can be a welcome, delightful departure from the ordinary.

Image by yi

 

Awase

By Marcus Samuelsson | July 25, 2014

Photo by Sudhamshu
Awase

Photo by Sudhamshu

This condiment is for those who like things hotter than hot. It uses essential Ethiopian Berbere to create a ketchup-style condiment that can be used to blow up the spiciness of any dish. You can use this recipe to make your own Berbere for the awase, or simply substitute it with a mild chili powder. This recipe is from The Soul of a New Cuisine.

Recipes

Honey Bread Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson | January 10, 2011

Photo: Crafty Goat

In the dark of winter, a warm loaf of bread is all it takes to restore warmth to your soul.  I love the fragrant rosemary combined with sweet honey in this bread.  In Ethiopia, dabo, or honey bread, is on the breakfast table.  It has a gentle sweetness that lends itself to any topping, from butter and jam to the traditional shiro, Ethiopian chickpea spread.

The rosemary is toasted to bring out the fragrant essential oils.  Enjoy with your morning coffee or tea.

From Soul of a New Cuisine

Recipes

Doro We’t Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson | December 23, 2010

doro we't

Today I’m thinking about the Kwanzaa principle of ujamaa. Although not directly related, this principle, meaning cooperative economics, makes me think about cooperation. This spicy chicken stew, Doro We’t, is the delicious national dish of Ethiopia.  My wife Maya learned to make it from her mother and sisters, and now she prepares it whenever we have guests.  I love to put the meal together with her, and I look forward to sharing this dish over the Kwanzaa holiday.  The meal is about bringing people together for a meal, and so I think ujamaa makes sense for this dish.

Other recipes that would be great to serve this year for Kwanzaa are Cauliflower Fritters, and White Bean Puree. Check back daily for new recipes for this holiday season!

Featured Recipe

Image by Rod Waddington Dinner

By Suzannah Schneider

Injera

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