An ancient bread : Injera from Eritrea and Zigni

ERITREA : Wholemeal Flatbread with Spicy Beef Stew

“Oh no” my son groaned – “not more African food!” Not much can be done about it, there just are an awful lot of African countries! So in our quest to cook from every country in the world, African food will feature a lot obviously.  However this meal was a surprise, very spicy (which we like) and the bread was delicious.

History

Eritrea wasn’t on the maps when I was growing up, then it was part of Ethiopia (which my mum called Abyssinia) but became a separate country in 1993. The modern name comes from early Greek meaning Red Sea, once part of the fabled Land of Punt in the horn of Africa. That’s the hook that sticks out into the Red Sea opposite Arabia.

Known as the cradle of (human) life, many ancient kingdoms have risen and fallen in and around this area. After 1869 and ‘the scramble for Africa’ Italy claimed this territory and it became Italian Eritrea in 1880.  A legacy of that time is the wonderful Italianate architecture in the capital city Asmara.

Danakil Depression Dallol

Now sadly Eritrea is a little visited place, due to on-going hostilities with Ethiopia (who may possibly want some of their coastline back)  and Djibouti. Eritrea has a long coastline, and in a world first in 2006, made the entire length an environmental protected zone.  Wildlife is protected and is rich and varied, with lots of large animals like lions, leopards, elephants, wild ass, oryx, jackals, gazelles and baboons.

Landscapes

Keren

Eritrea is a volcanic hot-spot, where three tectonic plates meet, giving the dramatic Martian landscapes of the Dankalia region with psychedelic sulphurous pools, and the impressive Danakil Depression, one of the hottest and lowest places on earth, with virtually no rain, Never-the-less it was where ‘Lucy’ the 3.2 million year old hominid the earliest ever. was discovered.

Sharing part of the Great Rift, there are awesome mountains in the south, and thick tropical jungle in the cooler fertile highlands.

Dahlak Islands

Coral Reef off Dahlak Islands

Cuisine

Obviously the traditional food of Eritrea is very similar to Ethiopia and Somalia, using lots of spices and tomatoes but less butter. A huge favourite is the herb and spice paste Berbere, which is eaten with just about everything. Basic foods are flat-breads (injera)  made from teff, sorghum, barley or wheat, and grains cooked like porridge (akelet) .

Legumes especially lentils and fava beans and vegetables are also key staples and the meats are beef, goat, lamb and near the coast, fish. Milk products like yogurt and fresh cheeses also feature and  spicy meat and vegetable stews known as sebhi are the main type of dish.

Drinks are a beer  brewed from corn and barley and flavoured with wild buckthorn (sowa) and mies a sweet wine made from  honey. Coffee preparation and serving has a very important ceremony and is drunk in enormous quantities.

Injera

INJERA

Ingredients

  • 125 gm wholemeal flour and 125 gm white flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Preparation

  1. Process all ingredients except salt for 1 minute
  2. Add salt and whizz again for 15 seconds.
  3. Let mix stand covered for 30 minutes in warm, or in fridge for 48 hours if possible to ferment slightly.
  4. Heat a nonstick frypan or griddle on medium high, add a dribble of oil. Pour a small ladle of batter for each injera and swirl mixture quickly with the back of a spoon to spread it out.
  5. Cook on one side for 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes, turn to brown other side. Keep warm

Mimsey’s Zigni with Injera

ZIGNI: Spicy Beef Stew

Ingredients

  • 500 gm beef mince
  • 1 x 400 gm tin diced tomatoes in juice, not drained
  • 3 spring onions/scallions sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves,  chopped
  • 4 tablespoons berbere (recipe below)
  • 1 bunch coriander/cilantro, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons oil
  • Salt
  1. Heat oil in medium frypan or saute pan over medium-high heat. add the beef mince and brown.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and cook till softened. Add capsicum and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Add the berbere and mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Adding the tomatoes and their juice, season lightly, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
  5. Five minutes before serving,mix in the chopped coriander.
Berbere

Berbere Spices

BERBERE

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 8 cardamom seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of white pepper
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon

Method

  1. In a small heavy frypan, toast the whole spices on low for 2 minutes till fragrant.
  2. Allow to cool, grind to a fine powder
  3. In the pan, put all the ground spices and salt and toast on low heat for 1 minute.
  4. Add garlic, onion, salt and water, gradually, stirring constantly. Mix well.
  5. Add the ground spice mixture, stir thoroughly and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes, then blend to a smooth paste.

All this took quite a while to make, so my advice is to make the Berbere spice paste one day and the Injera dough if you want, and then make the beef stew the next day and cook the injera too. We were surprised how spicy this dish was, and it was very tasty, particularly with the flatbread which really was delicious. We liked it enough to have it again, a rare accolade indeed. Score: 7/10

Beef Peanut and Spinach Stew from South Sudan

WEEK 16 – SOUTH SUDAN

Beef Stew with peanuts, spinach and tomatoes

Hello everybody! sorry it’s been a while, school holidays and all –  went to the Snowy mountains and had a lovely time relaxing and enjoying the views of the Thredbo River and the Snow Gums on the slopes beyond. Needless to say ate lots of yummy food including a wonderful Cauliflower Risotto – a Jamie Oliver recipe that is so yummy won over my cauliflower averse family, and a divine Rhubarb, Apple and Berry Crumble! Requests taken – was so good others polished off the leftovers for breakfast before I even got up! (and with ice-cream too!) Hurrumph!

So back to our mission to cook from every country in the world – we started back in September last year. The idea is my 15 year old daughter Bunny and I pull a country out of a hat each week, and both cook a traditional dish from that country. We try to make things we would never normally, or have never had before. Sometimes it’s just a drink or a dessert, usually a main dish. We learn a little about unknown countries – who knows much about The Comoros or Kiribati for instance? and have fun scoring each dish out of 10.

So with time off for holidays, I am now up to country number 32 South Sudan, yet another African country – there are so many of them! Alas so many of these African countries have fairly similar basic cuisines based on a limited range of staples, peanuts, root vegetables, grains, pulses like dried broad beans (fava beans) and small amounts of protein like beef or goat or fish. Sigh.

South Sudan

A land locked East African country, South Sudan is the newest countries in the world – only gained independence from Sudan, (Africa’s biggest country until then) in 2011. Sadly this mostly rural agricultural country is plagued with the problems rising from continuing civil and ethnic wars since the 1950’s. Huge refugee population, human rights violations, break-down of infra-structure including water supply and more. Not a fun place and definitely not a tourist destination. Even the indefatigable Lonely Planet has extremely limited information about this little known country, and  there posts warnings  to all Commonwealth travellers to avoid this place. Some intrepid travellers still seem to be going, mainly to capital Juba and surrounds.

South Sudan is made up of 3 regions, the Sudd or Bahr el Ghazal – a vast swampy grassland formed by the White Nile, the Equatoria and the Greater Upper Nile. The huge Bandingilo National Park hosts the 2nd largest migration of wildlife in the world, there are tropical forests, savanna and dry bushland in this largely undeveloped country.

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Due to geographical isolation, much of the traditional indigenous culture has been retained and local tribal culture and ways of life are still predominant. Woven huts, colourful costume, scary scarification including on woman, dances and some outstanding wild life and national parks are what draws the brave visitor.

The Food

General Notes on Sudanese Food

At a cross roads for cuisines, South Sudan has influences from early Arab traders bringing garlic and spices like red pepper, Egypt and Ethiopia to the north and India and Yemen also. Breads such as Kissra are similar to Injera and starches in the form of porridges or gruel are made from the most often grown grains of sorghum, millet and wheat.

Soups and stews are the most common meat dish, as been easy to prepare with the minimum of ingredients, cooking time or preparation required. All of the protein is used including offal and vegetables include okra, yams, beans and peas, pulses, tomatoes and dates.

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The fava (dried broad bean) in the form of Ful, and the African Ground Nut AKA a peanut, rules here. I wanted to make some unusual felafel like dumplings with a meat stuffing, but couldn’t find dried broad beans. Settled for a typical beef, peanut and tomato stew with spinach. Was surprisingly tasty and I really liked it a lot, served on top of a spicy couscous – yeah I know, should have been a sorghum or possibly millet dish – but hey, that went in the ‘too hard’ box! Rest of family weren’t so keen, scoring it 6/10, I scored it 7/10, I was more than happy to eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.

This recipe comes from the most excellent SBS Food Safari series, TV Channel 28 in  Australia,  http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/by-cuisine

 Ingredients

    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 500g chuck steak, cut into 3 cm cubes
    • 2 onions, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 tbsp tomato paste
    • 750 ml (3 cups) good-quality or salt-reduced beef stock
    • 1 orange sweet potato (kumara), cut into 4cm pieces
    • 2 bunches English spinach/1 bunch silver beet, washed & trimmed, and cut into ribbons
    • 2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
    • 100 g (⅓ cup) unsalted roasted peanuts, leave ¼ whole, grind rest to a paste
 Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium–high heat. Brown beef and cook for 3 minutes, Remove and set aside.
  2. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil and onions, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Add garlic and tomato paste, then cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Return the beef to the pan with stock and 500 ml (2 cups) water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour or until beef is almost tender and the cooking liquid is reduced by one-third. Add sweet potato and whole peanuts, cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook spinach, covered for 20 seconds or until wilted. Drain well, squeezing out excess water.
  5. Add spinach, tomatoes and ground peanuts to beef mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes or until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Divide stew among plates and serve with couscous.

Rwandan kebabs and HOT hot sauce

Week 16 – Rwanda

Hi everybody sorry for the lack of posts recently,we have been away from home on holiday. This week I was determined to make a fabulous dish that we would all enjoy, something a bit different.

ABOUT RWANDA

Located in Central East Africa in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; the country is covered in mountains in the west and savanna in the east, with numerous lakes all over the country. Three ethnic groups make up the population of Rwanda these are the: Hutu, Tutsi and Twa people. Rwanda was colonised twice in history; by the German’s first in the 19th century and then the Belgians during World War 1.

rwafrica

Rwanda is one of only two countries in the world which mountain gorillas can be visited safely; gorilla tracking, in the Volcanoes National Park, attracts thousands of visitors per year, who pay high prices for permits.

640px-Gorilla_mother_and_baby_at_Volcans_National_Park

Other destinations which attract a lot of visitors include: Nyungwe Forest, home to chimpanzees, Ruwenzori colobus and other primates, the resorts of Lake Kivu, and Akagera, a small savanna reserve in the east of the country.

RwandaVolcanoAndLake_cropped2

Music and dance are very strong in Rwandan culture, drums are favoured and a highly choreographed intore dance. Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, including imigongo, a unique cow dung art.

RWANDAN CUISINE

Rwanda’s cuisine is based on staple foods that are produced by agriculture in local areas such as bananas, plantains, pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava. Living near a lake you have access to fish, tilapia is popular. Potatoes have been popular since German and Belgian colonialists brought them to Rwanda.

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Lunch is usually a buffet known as mélange, consisting of the staples mentioned above and sometimes meat. The most popular food when eating out in the evening is brochettes which are usually made from goat but sometimes tripe, beef, or fish. During some traditional rituals and ceremonies a traditional beer called urwagwa made from sorghum or bananas is drunk.

434px-Rwanda_IntoreDancers

 WHAT I MADE


Sadly the website we’ve been using to source a lot of recipes has shut down or something it not letting us access it at all, so I couldn’t get the recipe 😦 But I’ll tell you about it, the dish was spicy beef kebabs with hot hot sauce which I served with couscous salad (not exactly Rwandan whoops). The kebabs I marinated for a few hours were delicious and beautifully tender and had a lovely charry flavour, and the hot hot sauce was… HOT it had copious amounts of tabasco and finely chopped chilli, yum. For the couscous salad I used my favourite recipe by Jamie Oliver which I can link so if you love couscous salads click here → www.jamieoliver.com/turkish-style-couscous

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The kebabs were delicious and we all loved it and gave it a score of 9/10.

Togolese Beef in Spicy Peanut and Tomato Sauce

WEEK 12 – Togo

Beef in Peanut Sauce

So searching for a recipe this week I used my favourite site for obscure cuisines, Celtnet and once again the site lived up to standards, providing three long lists of recipes for me to browse thorough. Scanning the lists I saw a lot of recipes based around seafood this is because Togo in the south borders the ocean.

Togo is one of Africa’s’ smallest countries and resides in West Africa along with other countries such as Ghana, Niger, Benin and several others, a few as small as Togo.

Some interesting things about Togo are : Togo means ‘House of Sea’ in the native Ewe language, For 200 years the coast was raided by Europeans in search of slaves and it was then known as the Slave Coast and the national language is French.

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I choose to make Beef in Peanut Sauce which I sourced from here www.celtnet the recipe is for 6-8 people so I halved the amount of meat and water but everything else I left the same.

Ingredients:

400g beef (I used 4 oyster steaks, which are known as butlers steaks in the UK and flat-iron steaks in the US) cut into bite-sized pieces

4 tbsp smooth peanut butter

1 onion, grated

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, cut into thick long sticks

 1 green capsicum, thickly sliced

1 fresh tomato, diced

250ml tomato purée

vegetable oil

1 vegetable or beef stock cube + 1 cup water

1 hot chilli

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine the grate onion and garlic. Season liberally with salt and black pepper then mix in the beef, cover and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes or longer if possible.
  2. Turn the beef mixture into a saucepan and add 35oml water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Drain the meat and reserve the broth.
  3. Add 2 tb of oil to a large wide saucepan (I used a large sauté pan) and fry the beef until nicely browned all over, you might need to do this in two batches as meat does not brown if touching. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add 2 tb more oil to the pan then stir in the tomato purée and cook for about 5 minutes, or until dark red in colour. Add the fresh tomato and crush with a wooden spoon. Stir in the peanut butter and the carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more than add the reserved meat broth along with  the stock.
  5. Stir until smooth, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. At this point add the beef and chilli. Return to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Serve hot, accompanied by plain white rice.

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We served this with white rice and some cooked vegetables. The beef and sauce were very nice and I would definitely eat this dish again, the same was said by the rest of the family. Scored: 8/10

I’m a fan of lamb, Mongolian that is.

Week 7 – MONGOLIA AND NIGER

 

Weeks have passed and we have had quite a bit of time off this project, seemed to have had a lot on at the moment. Sometimes cooking and researching a foreign meal seems like such a lot of extra work and time. I’m working hard with the ‘Around the World ‘ meals we have previously made, only have two more weeks to catch up.

My home expresso machine comes home.

A cause to celebrate – I have my expresso machine back! It was away being fixed for two weeks,  oh boy I have so missed it! Normally only have 1 cup of coffee a day, at morning-tea time about 10.30-11am. First thing in the morning and in the afternoon I feel more like tea, but I really enjoy that coffee. Not having my expresso maker at home left me having to fall back on my old plunger pot. It’s not a bad coffee, but not nearly as good as the real thing. Filter coffee doesn’t produce much of a crema and to me that’s the best part of a good coffee.

Get this – this is so typical of our throw away consumer society, when I finally tracked down a repairer who could actually fix it – their first suggestion was…….just buy a new one!  So I thought,’oh well, it is old, and a light is broken’ so I went and looked at new ones. But the same model is now made of plastic, whereas mine is all metal,  and mine has an 18 bar pump made in Italy, while the new models are only 15 bar pumps and made in China. So I thought ‘no thanks, I’d rather keep my old one and get it fixed.’ Only cost $62 and it’s good as new, a new one was still over $200. But the guy in the repair shop (who were flat out I can tell you) said “most people can’t be bothered getting things fixed! “ Can’t be bothered! All they have to do is take it in for goodness sake.

Our throw away society

How did we become such a throw away society so quickly? My parents who grew up with the privations of the depression and the war, never threw anything away that could possibly be re-used – Mum even washed out plastic bags, and appliances were carefully maintained and used until they died of old age and couldn’t be fixed. Of course all these appliances cost a great deal more, being either made in NZ or imported from England, but they were made to last and they did. We had the same old refrigerator and washing machine my entire life, the idea of up-grading to the latest model hadn’t occurred back then. Then the emphasis was on frugality and making do, not gratuitous consumption and showing off.

MONGOLIA – Mongolian Lamb

Did you know? Some info about Mongolia.

I made this dish as it’s one of my husband’s favourites and he pleaded that he hadn’t had it in a long time! So I missed an opportunity to experiment with camel burgers or other interesting indigenous Mongolian food. So pretty sure everyone knows Mongolia is that huge country between China and Russia In fact Mongolia is the 19th largest country in the world and the 2nd biggest landlocked one, yet it’s also the most sparsely populated country. This vast emptiness is the place to go to escape “the maddening crowds.”

Gobi desert

Known as the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” and the “Land of the Horse”  it’s  most famous obviously for Genghis Khan, who with his swift Hordes, extended  the Mongolian Empire to cover more continuous land than any other empire  ever – from the Ukraine to Korea and from Siberia to Vietnam.

  The ancient capital is Ulan Bator once called Urga and was home to  hundreds  of Buddhist temples and 10,000 monks! The traditional homes are very  beautiful  and practical unusual domed tents called Yurts or Ger. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote in 450 BC that the notorious Scythian horseman of  Central Asia, lived in circular tents. And Marco Polo travelling along the Silk  Road, also noted the local nomad  houses made  of wood and felt which were moved on carts when needed.                                                                      

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Most of this country is open barren steppe with very little farm land, and bone dry, alternatively boiling hot or freezing cold. The Gobi which means ‘large and dry ”  in the local dialect, is Asia’s largest desert, made  up not so much of sand dunes  but gravel plains and barren rocky outcrops. In winter it snows and freezes. Wild Ass, Bactrian Camels and rare desert bears roam the wilderness.

Mongolian cuisine naturally owes a lot  to Russian or Chinese influences. Largely  nomadic, the tribal peoples ate what  was on hand, dairy, meat, and animal fats.  Availability meant traditionally little  use was made of vegetables or spicing,  barley is a staple crop.  Dumplings in all  forms, soups and noodles are popular.  Another time I’d like to have a go at  making Buuz, a steamed meat dumpling.

 

Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry                                                             ( Serves 4)

    • 650gm lamb leg steak, trimmed & thinly sliced across the grain
    • 2 tb (tablespoon) soy sauce
    • 2 tb black bean sauce
    • 1 tb rice wine vinegar
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 tsp (teaspoon) finely grated fresh ginger
    • 1/2 – 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
    •  2 tb peanut oil
    • 1/2 bunch spring onions, trimmed, thinly sliced crossways
    • 1/2 red capsicum or 1 long red chilli, sliced
    • 125ml (1/2) cup Beef Stock
    • 1 tb soy sauce, extra
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp cornflour
    • 1 tsp water
    • 4 green shallots, ends trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
  1. Combine lamb, soy sauce, black bean sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and Chinese five spice in a large bowl. Cover & marinate 15 minutes – 2 hours if possible.

  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a wok or frying pan over high heat. Add one-quarter of the lamb mixture and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until brown. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining lamb mixture, in 3 more batches, adding 1 teaspoon of oil and reheating wok between batches.

  3. Heat remaining oil in the wok. Add the spring onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until soft. Add lamb, stock, extra soy sauce and sesame oil. Bring to the boil.

  4. Combine the cornflour and water in a bowl. Add to the lamb mixture and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Stir through half the shallots.

  5. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining shallots. Serve with steamed rice.

Mongolia

Mongolia

This recipe is a good family favourite, I recommend if you haven’t tried it yet, it’s easy and tasty without being too full on.  There are heaps of recipes out there, but they’re all pretty much the same, this one came from a terrific Australian site I often use –   http://www.taste.com.au  Our family rated this meal 8/10.

  1. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and chilli and fry gently for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion is soft and translucent.