Ethiopian Food | World Food

 


My first introduction to African food was way back in 2004. It was at Morogoro, a small town in Eastern Tanzania. A decent lunch served in a single plate to three of us. I have never imagined Ethiopian food to be a Global favourite. Simplicity has its own demand for sure. And simplicity is thy essence of true Ethiopian food. 

Ethiopian food is very similar to Gujarati or Malabari food. Needless to say, Ethiopian food is much simple and less spicy. The similarity is obvious as there were cultural exchanges between Africa and India from ancient time.  

Evolution of Ethiopian Food

Ethiopia represents one of the oldest civilization of the world but civil war and politics have made Ethiopia extremely vulnerable for decades. It is sad, but such political unrest had kept Ethiopia away from the rest of the world for long.
Many of the Ethiopians had left the country and people from other African countries had entered Ethiopia. The mixed population has indirectly helped Ethiopia to add specialities of other African delicacies into their cuisine. In the process, “the food for the poor” in Ethiopia has become a global favourite.  

Fenan Klein Afrika

Fenan Klein

Entrance

I have experienced Ethiopian Food in San Jose and Amsterdam off late. This experience is from a restaurant in Fenan Klein Afrika in Amsterdam. A small casual dining Ethiopian restaurant just 2 minutes away from Vondelpark. 

The cosiness and simplicity of serving are essences of Ethiopian restaurants. This restaurant has a lot of Yemen influence as it called the community eating “mandi”. The food is served on a huge plate to be shared by a group of 4 to 6. The base is injera. For our understanding consider that as roti and on top of the injera, they serve you different curries, meat and lentils.

 

Injera and the Ethiopian Spread

Ethiopian Food – the choice of meat, vegetables and lentils served over the injera

Coming to the similarities, the basic ingredient of the Ethiopian cuisine is Doro Wot or the chicken stew. The thick stew is served on top of the injera. The curry chicken is called Shiro. Here the chicken stew is made with Berbere which is similar to the Garam Masala (a little too Garam that you need to handle with care).  

Injera and Appam

The injera is the reddish and flatter version of Appam. It is no wonder that Kerala food has influences from the Ethiopian Jews who came to Kerala for trading spices.  Injera is made by fermenting a variety of different grains, including barley, millet, and sorghum (Jowar in Bengali). Again the ingredients mainly used in the lower-middle-class segment in India. The process is very similar to making Dosa or Appam. The chef told us that the dow is actually fermented for 3 days. 

Various types of Lentils and curry was served on top of the Injera. Injera being porous and absorbent absorbs the juices from the curry. The curry-soaked injeras were a pure delight to have. It had a mixed taste of different curries and lentils. 

the spread

Coconut Beer

Coming back to the spread, you can decide what you want. For us, we decided Wat Doro (Chicken), Wat Asa (Fish – fresh catch from the river) and Wat Beggi (Lamb) with some vegetables and varieties of lentils. I could feel Tur, Chana and Masoor in it. They use Ayibe which is some sort of cottage cheese or paneer. This actually neutralizes the spices in the food. The spices they use has Ajwain and Fenugreek which made the lentils almost like the day to day dal that we have.    

They normally serve extra injeras along with the spread. I wanted to taste Kifto or Kefto which is raw beef or very rare beef minced with chilli powder. Unfortunately, no one was ready to experience that.   

 

They served the food with lots of love and very special Mango and Coconut beer. Well, to describe that experience I will write some other day. My experience in Africa was a bit different. They served the food with Katikala, a local drink. Truly speaking, I could not recollect the taste of my first African cuisine thanks to that. Traditionally in Africa, they serve a special honey wine called Tej. If you want to taste real Rosogolla, you have to come to Kolkata. And to taste the real African food, plan a trip to Africa. 

 

Location of Fenan Klein 

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