At first glance, you don’t think that the two words should go together, right? But despite the political and natural atrocities that have occurred in Ethiopia, its cuisine is uniquely complex, vibrant, and delicious.
If you’ve ever eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant, you know that you’re typically served meat stew, known as wat, along with vegetables, placed on top of a spongey crêpe-like bread called injera.
You eat with your hands, using the injera to pick up the food. It’s a fabulous experience, and one I highly recommend. This is what injera looks like up close! Plus a photo of a young woman making injera from the cookbook I mention below.
My first time eating Ethiopian food? In my dining room when I was in high school. It was during the period of time when my mother was cooking a different international cuisine every week or so. It would be German, then Chinese, then Russian, then Indian, then Ethiopian! Crazy mama.
I remember really enjoying all the smells and the flavors of the Ethiopian dishes, although some of them were too hot-spicy for me. Sadly, I was a little slow developing my taste for anything hot-spicy, even salsa!
The book my mother cooked out of was – you guessed it – the Time Life Series called Foods of the World – African Cooking.
Although I do own a few Ethiopian cookbooks, this one contains two “seasoning mixtures” that are an integral part of preparing traditional Ethiopian food, so I always refer to it for these recipes.
One mixture is a dark, rich paste called Berberé. I’ve seen it in powdered form at spice shops, but do make it from scratch the first time you start cooking Ethiopian.
The second is niter kebbeh. Delicious onion, garlic, and spices simmered in butter, then strained.
For the next few days I will be posting on these very important spice mixtures. And then we will start baking and cooking Ethiopian cuisine!