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Kitchen World Tour Day 54: Ethiopia

Key Wat, Misir Wat, Ye’abesha Gomen and Injera bread

I was hugely excited to be cooking Ethiopian, one of my all time favourite cuisine styles, so I decided to try extra hard to be authentic.

First step was properly fermented, 100% Teff (flour) Injera bread. This takes five days. To my dismay my Teff arrived in the post and they accidentally sent me Teff seeds not flour. After some research I discovered that you can grind Teff easily in a coffee grinder so with fresh flour in hand I mixed it with warm water and let it sit to ferment.

Five days on I was presented with a slightly awful looking brew of muck with a slightly blue film on top. Nearly throwing it out I re-read my source material and discovered this was to be expected so I completed the process and proudly ended up with a plate of dark Injera which was as good if not better than any I had been served before. Massive effort but worth every bit!

Next step is the Niter Kibbeh. Niter Kibbeh is a spiced clarified butter and if you are cooking Ethiopian it is essential. It provides the basis of the flavour. Simmer a stick of butter over a low heat for 2 hours with a stack of spices, strain it and you have Niter Kibbeh. Use this as your cooking oil in everything. A spectacular flavour.

From there the rest was pretty easy, Key Wat as slow cooked onion and beef stew, Misir Wat (red lentil stew), Ye’abesha Gomen (collard greens stew).
Ethiopian food is king.

Next Up: Fiji

Kitchen World Tour Day 52: Eritrea

Doro Wat, Tsebhi Birsen, Coconut Cucumber and Lime salsa on Injera.

I’ve been a bit quiet in the kitchen so it’s time to get back into it. Eritrea is a small east African country on the horn of Africa. The cuisine is very similar to Ethiopia.

The Doro Wat is a chicken stew. It has a crazy amount of onions caramalised for a few hours, then berbere and chicken are added.

Tsebhi Birsen is a very spicy red lentil stew. This was served on Injera bread made from white Teff (flour) and accompanied with a coconut cucumber salsa which acts as cooling agent for the very spicy food.

I’m excited my Injera bread skills are coming along. Injera is fermented for five days before cooking. I have found that adding some sour dough starter to the Teff flour really kicks the fermenting into top gear quickly.

Next up: Estonia

Chicken in Peanut Sauce, Hot Curried Okra and Mashed Yuca

So I finally got my hands on some genuine Red Palm Oil. Red Palm Oil is an ingredient which is fundamental to the cuisine of West Africa. It is used in everything like olive oil is used in Italy.

It is bright red and has a really distinctive taste. It is made from cold crushing the red fruit of the African palm tree. It is quite different from the high trans fat white palm oil (or palm kernel oil). White palm oil is extracted from the high yield seed of the same plant and is not very healthy.
So in West African tradition the oil went into the whole meal, all 3 dishes.

The meal was very spicy as Equatorial Guinea likes to put Habanero chillies in everything. Very flavoursome but they are seriously hot. I have found putting the whole chilli into the dish with a small cut in the side is enough to impart the flavour and some heat without making it inedible and hot. Simply fish out and dispose the whole chilli before serving.

Africa is fast becoming a favourite as I learn more about its cooking. Next Up: Eritrea

Main: Lamb Stew and Koshari

Dessert: Om Ali

So Egypt marks the first quarter mark: 49 out of 196 countries.

The main was a bit blander than I expected. The stew is like a Morrocan Tagine but with a little less flavour. The Koshari which is the national dish is a mix of rice, lentils and pasta topped with a spicy tomato sauce and crispy onions.

The dessert was amazing. Om Ali is an Egyptian bread pudding which supposedly dates back to the middle of the 12th century.

According to folklore, this dessert pudding was named after the wife of a ruler from the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt. Her rival Shagaret El Dorr became the second wife. However, after his death, in a fit of pique over a dispute about whose son would succeed the Sultan, Shagaret El Dorr arranged for Om Ali to be murdered by bribing her maids. When Om Ali went to the hammam, she was beaten to death by her own handmaidens, allegedly with her own slippers!

Nastily, to celebrate the death of the poor woman, Shagaret requested her cooks to come up with the most delicious dessert they could create and distribute throughout Egypt. The chosen recipe became a national dish.

Tasted great but.

Next Up: El Salvador

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