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Monday, May 17, 2010

Eritrean Delights in the Form of FOOD!!

I was not planning on writing anything today, as I haven't actually cooked, written, or traveled. However I have tasted and I have learned.

Last night I was invited over for dinner at my good friend Biniam's house. Biniam is from Eritrea, and we were having a dinner to say goodbye to his brother Alex, who was heading back to London. Now, I spent a bit of time in Ethiopia and absolutely LOVED the food.

Eritrean food is very similar to Ethiopian, actually I can't tell the difference. When I ask Biniam if there is a difference, he always says no, but then he'll point out that in a specific dish, Eritreans might use or add an ingredient that Ethiopians might not. As I feel slightly obsessed with the Habesha people, I plan to investigate this further.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ethiopian and Eritrean completely, I can only suggest you get yourself to the nearest Habesha restaurant. Two of the most distinct items in this food is the use of berbere in their sauces, as well as injera, which is the rice to one's thai green curry, the naan to one's dal makhani. Traditionally made with Teff, a grain that can only be found in those countries, it's usually substituted with wheat outside.

Ok. So enough with the descriptions. I have search and searched for a blog or website devoted to Eritrean and Ethiopian cooking, but to no avail. As well, cookbooks covering recipes from here are lacking. All I want is a great Shiro Wat recipe (peas stew). And for a region that has such amazing food, the lack of resources to cook this amazing food is just unacceptable. I will see what I can do.

I did have look, and found and these Ethiopian cookbooks. I had a flip through the first two here in Cairo, and they looked great. And as soon I get money, I plan to buy them, but I figure, what's the rush when I'm still getting invited to people's houses for Eritrean and Ethiopian food...right?
 Ethiopian Delights Cookbook

I had looked at one of the Eritrean cookbooks, but the reviews weren't great and it definitely didn't seem like it captured the essence of Eritrean cooking. The rest seem to be mainly cookbooks that cover the entire continent. I am always surprised when I come across an African cookbook, as I can't imagine how the author would have attempted to tackle that challenge. It would be like creating a European cookbook, or an Asian cookbook. How could you possible choose which recipes to put in each country's chapter? I do not envy the person that embarks on that task, that's for sure.

But I digress. For those of you who are looking for a little sample of Eritrean or Ethiopian food, I would take a look at http://ethiopianrecipes.net, although the site itself can be a bit difficult to navigate. Also, DK at Chef In You has done so much of the trials and testing, presenting what appears to be an amazing gluten-free Injera recipe.

And that is all I have for you. I have not cooked, but tasted. So I can assure you that tasting some of the delicious dishes that come from this region, as well as learning about this incredibly rich culture and people, will only bring you joy.

So. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, if there is anyone that is reading this and knows of some great recipes from this region, put it out there for the rest of us to enjoy!!!

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