addis food

A standing ovation to injera and wett

To those who have no idea what I’m talking about (and somehow didn’t get a clue from the caricature I drew either), injera and wett are Ethiopia foods. This blog post will educate you on the different kinds of Ethiopian food. There might also be some food-related lexis like hodam (Amharic for: someone who eats like there is no tomorrow).

So if you’re not in Ethiopia and you’re hungry, I advise you to either figure out a place where you can get Ethio-food right now or jump to the next blog post because some mouth-salivating stuff is about to come. Fellow Ethiopians, this is for embracing the things that a lot of us have (mistakenly) taken for granted by now.

Ok, let’s start with injera? Injera is life basically. Even in their prayers, Ethiopian Orthodox Christian folk say, ‘Thank you God for giving us injera and water’.

Light, thin, spongy, tasty. It’s the base of all wetts (the sauce (?) that you pour on top of the injera). You can call it Ethiopian bread or sour pancake. There’s even an art to holding it, wrapping wett and meat and aibb (yoghurt-curd thing). There’s the skill of magursat (hand-feeding someone bite-fulls/handfuls of injera and wett).

There are a dozens of famous Ethiopian meat dishes (Kitfo, Quanta, liblib) which I’m really not willing to go into because I personally don’t like how they taste. And I am always mocked for not liking these ‘proper Ethiopian dishes’. But I am a long way from becoming a proper Ethiopian anyway, so hey, I will let you know about the non-meaty dishes I do enjoy a lot.

  • Firfir: this is simply chopped up injera mixed with an oilier version of pasta sauce (am I right, fellow Ethiopians?). Plus, there is the Ethiopis staple spice berbere (special-flavoured red pepper).
  • Timatim (Arabic for tomatoes, by the way): I am not even sure whether this is an Ethiopian dish but it is so freaking easy to make. Even I (and yes, I suck) can cook a decent timatim dish without burning anything. It’s just sautéing chopped tomatoes, onions, pepper and some berbere and salt for about five minutes then dropping it to a plate of injera. Voila! You get your timatim. One problem is I become so thirsty afterwards.
  • Shiro: shiro is a mix of ground chickpeas and spices. I’ve witnessed the prcess of makig it from scrath in my home; grinding the spices in a mortar, drying pepper to make berbere. Eve the process smells delicious. Weird thing is that may Ethiopias consider it as the ‘poor’s food’. Maybe it has something to do with how easy it is to make. Oce the powder mix is ready, one has to fry chopped onions, tomatoes, pepper (and eve rosemary ad garlic) then add water and the powder. You can even cook the mix with water alone, like porridge. The most annoying (and exciting) thing about shiro is the fact that it is one of the most variable oods I know. One can screw up and produce an orange, watery puddle of disappointment or a thick, aromatic pot that will leave you licking your fingers. Mostly, it’s just something in between.

 

The most disappointing thing about Ethiopian food is the lack of dessert. And don’t you dare call ambasha (soft, tangy, cake/bread) dessert, fellow Ethiopians. I mean I am sort of thankful we didn’t fully adopt those Italians’ culture of desserts. We’d have been just a little happier but a lot heavier by now. Our restaurants did take the pastinis and bombolinos (or so they call them) but ot much more.

 

 

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