On one occasion we made the mistake of ordering a chicken frikasee with salad and were subsequently very sick for two days. To stay on the safe side we then ate more of the local stuff whenever we went out, almost always injera.
Injera is a sourdough pancake made of teff (Eragostris Tef), ersho, and water. It is the staple diet of most Ethiopians. Teff is a hardy robust cereal, nativ to Ethiopia and well adapted to its climates, altitudes and soils. It is glutamine free, a rich mineral source and easy to digest. A batter is made by mixing water and ersho (a clear yellow liquid gathered from the surface of the last fermentation not unlike mother of vinegar or yeast) and left two or three days to ferment. The pancake is then cooked like a crepe in a shallow dish over the fire. It has a soft texture, smooth underneath and spongy on top, ideal for soaking up all the sauces and other goodies put on it. It is usually served on a large flat metal dish and is eaten using the fingers of the right hand, which Ethiopians manage without making a mess.
from left to right and top to bottom
- Shakla Tibs. A meat dish. Meat can mean beef, pork, mutton, or goat depending on what is available. Including gristle, some bones, sinews and very tough. Served with raw onions a very hot sauce and injera. The meat is fried and then brought to the table in a ceramic chalice that holds charcoals. Absolutely delicious. Available in half kilo or one kilo portions. A good cook will not include too many bones. Best eaten with a St Georg (Georgis) or two.
- Vegitable injera or injera no meat. Including red, brown, yellow and green lentils, shiro (beans of any kind, sometimes very hot), potatoes and carrots, potatoes and beetroot, cabbage and a salad with lettuce, onions, paprika, tomatoes, and cabbage turnip. Everything cold except the injera which is luke warm when served and very soon as cold as the rest.
- Sugar cane. Eaten as a snack. Available any and everywhere all the time. The outer fibres are striped off using ones teeth. The core is then chewed upon until there is no more juice and the remaining fibres are spat out.
- Coffee is a nativ plant of Ethiopia. It was first used in the old province of Kaffa in what is now the region of the southern nations, nationalities and Peoples. Origionally ground coffee was mixed with butter or fat into balls or pellets and chewed long before the roasted beans were boiled as a beverage. This custom still exists in the region today. Coffee shops are to be found in every street and typically have fresh grass strewn on the floor. The coffee is traditionally brought to the boil three times. Incense is burnt in the coals. Three cups should be had. The cups have no handles and are allways filled to the brim and invariably over filled.
- Shiro is a thick pasty sauce resembeling Humus and likewise made of chickpeas, lentils, or beans. It can be very spicy. It is usually served bubbling hot in a ceramic pot but can be eaten cold and is served with injera.
- Fruit salad, with mango, avocado, watermelon, banana, pineaple, garnished with syrops and sprinkled with limejuice. A medium sized bowl costs only 30 to 35 Birr and is perfect for lunch.
- Dashen beer, the brewery is in Gondar, not too bad. My favourite however is St George. Others include Habesha and Walia which Sig prefers.
- Minced meat sauce, again very tough and were not sure from which animal. Probably goat. This particular one wasn't hot though spicey and served with injera.
- Khat. Not strictly speaking a food however not being a practised comsumer and used to swallowing everything that I chew, enough did slip down. Khat hems the appetite, stimulates and is euphoric. The effect has been compared to caffeine. It is legal in Ethiopia and has a long tradition in the Horn of Africa.
- Vegitable injera again, this time including what seems to be the leftovers of last night's spaghetti bolognese.
- Cooked, cold and unseasoned corn on the cob with a St Georg.
- Another shiro. Every shiro and every injera tastes different. This is a small portion for one. Sometimes if we ordered the same dish enough for both of us was brought on one large plate and occasionally a dish for one was enough for both of us. Injera is filling.
- Grilled fish, a wicked sauce, corn on the cob as above and a beer for lunch.
- A decent portion of meat injera with a very very spicey sauce, the hottest to date.
- The Ethiopian national flag without the blue bit and pentagram in the middle. Inedible.
- The best vegi injera to date with cabbage, carrots, lentils, parsley, cabbage with greens and carrots, potatoes with beetroot and shiro.
- Fresh juice with a consistancy more like a mousse or joghurt and eaten with a spoon and a squidge of lime. The green one is avocado, the other mango and banana. Juice shops are quite popular and common in towns.
- Teff being bought and sold on market day. It is used not only in injera, a porridge is also made with it and a beer called Tella which is a home brewed beer using Gesho leaves instead of hops. It is often sweetened with honey (mine wasn't).
- Firfir injera a typical breakfast made out of leftover injera, shreded, soaked in sauce and served on, guess what, yes, injera!!!
- Fresh, small, local and very tasty pineapples, a perfect lunch 50 Birr (1,56 EUR) for three.
- Another breakfast dish. Injera and a dollop of something tasting like rancid butter and the curds and whey from goat's milk and with the consistency of almost dried up clotted cream.
- Bon appetit !!!