Eritrea

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Unusual Fact: One of the world’s oldest human fossils was excavated in Eritrea and many experts believe it to be the cradle of the earth.

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How good are smart phone cameras?!? I was mixing up the spice mix for todays recipe when it fell into a nice pattern so I took this photo with my iPhone.

I was throughly impressed.

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On another note, actual cameras are good as well. I was pretty stoked with this photo I took in Turkey.

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That’s why I haven’t posted much in the last couple of weeks, I spent two and a half weeks travelling around Turkey, France and Belgium which was pretty awesome. I posted Equatorial Guinea at 10pm the night before I left because I knew that by the time I got back I wouldn’t remember anything about it.

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You can see the Greek Island on the horizon

Back to the important stuff now.

Eritrea.

We made Zigni and Injera. The injera you will have to start making a two or three days before you plan on eating them. These are sour savoury pancakes. From what I gather there are two methods to making injera. The first is with yeast (the one I did) that is left in the fridge for two days. The purpose behind this method is to ferment but not rise (that’s why it is kept in the fridge). The second is just with the flour and water and is left out for three days (not in the fridge) to ferment. I believe this is the more traditional recipe as I can’t imagine Eritrean families 500 years ago getting their packet of yeast out and leaving the mixture in the fridge. The original recipe called for the Injera to be made with Teff flour but we couldn’t find any so we used buckwheat but you could also use rice flour.

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Next up was the Zigni which you can see, is a beef and tomato stew. It is made with a crazy spice mix called berberè which is made from cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, chilli, cloves, allspice and many many many more.

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This stew would run out of liquid quick (though it might just have been my pot), even with the lid on I had to keep adding more water; I think I added about three cups in total.

We had our Zigni and Injera the traditional way. Sitting on the ground eating with out hands and no cutlery. Heres some rules to follow when you are eating this way:

  1. The host (or cook) must bring out a bowl of water for all the diners to wash their hands in before they start eating
  2. You must only eat with your right hand picking your food up with your injera (bread)
  3. You’re not allowed to lick your fingers (it’s considered rude in Eritrea), instead wash your hands in the provided
  4. Try not to get any on your nose

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Injera Recipe from 196 Flavours

1/2 pound tell flour

1/2 packet dried yeast

1 pinch baking soda

2 cups warm water

1/2 tsp salt

 

Mix all ingredients except salt in a blender for 1 minute.

Add salt and blend again for 15 seconds.

Put the mixture into a large container.

Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 48 hours in refrigerator.

Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle at maximum temperature. Lightly oil.

Pour a small ladle of batter for each injera and cook on one side for 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

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Zigni Recipe from 196 Flavours

2lb cubed beef

1x14oz can whole tomatoes, not drained

3 spring onions

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4Tbs berberè

1 bunch coriander

5 Tbs oil

salt

Heat oil over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, sear the beef cubes until browned.

Add the onions and garlic. Cook 2 minutes.

Add the berberè.

Mix well and cook for 2 minutes.

Finish by adding the tomatoes and their juice.

Season lightly, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Thirty minutes before the end of cooking, add the cilantro.

The meat should fall apart easily and the sauce should be smooth.

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Berberè Recipe from Global Table Adventure

Makes about 1/4 cup

3 cloves
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp  fenugreek seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
5 whole allspice balls
1/4 tsp cardamom seeds (removed from pods)
1/8 cup chili powder

Heat the spices in a clean, dry skillet to toast them. Once cool, grind them in batches.

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