I’ve eaten Ethiopian food a few times at Arts on Main market on a Sunday. At the market it’s typically served on one injera (the bread type stuff), and lots of little piles of different food – lentils, meat, cabbage, butternut and the like. I don’t order it often, but I do quite enjoy it – although it’s a lot of food for one person and we generally share.
I knew for this cooking week that I would need to try and find one meal – instead of all the little ones like at the market, because it’s difficult to cook small portions of those for only 2 people. I settled then on a Spicy Red Lentil Stew. If the title includes lentils I’m generally in – unless it also includes mushroom or olives as one of the main ingredients!
The recipe for my stew can be found here. The recipe calls for Berbere spice, which is an Ethiopian spice mix. I didn’t want to buy it, so instead made it using a recipe from this website. Injera calls for Teff which is a type of maize/flour, but I didn’t know where I could find it (although have since found it in some spice shops), so I cheated a bit and bought the Injera from a restaurant in Joburg. There are a couple of well-known Ethiopian restaurants in Jozi, but I settled on Queen Sheba (mainly because it was closer to me in location than the others). I was met with the friendliest man behind the counter. He took an interest in my blog and even suggested that I cook the lentils for him and then we can exchange and do a little taste test (it was pretty good so I might take him up on that one day). I bought 2 injeras (if that’s the correct plural) because I wasn’t sure how big they were, and at R10 each it seemed pretty worthwhile. These 2 injeras could have fed an army. They were ENORMOUS (think baby roulette table)! In theory I wouldn’t have been able to make them on my own – unless they were plate size.
The stew was super spicy – but different to a curry kind of spice (the main ingredients of the Berbere Spice are Paprika and Cayenne Pepper), and delicious. The lentils cooked easily and the dish is actually really. Paula, typically a meat eater, even suggested it be a ‘once a week’ kind of meal! I’m glad it was successful, but would also like to try a meat dish in future (having given up meat for lent made my choices slightly limited).
Also, a few people were surprised to see that the Ethiopian flag looks like it does. The flag used to just have the colours, but took on the star in the middle in 1996 after the defeat of Ethiopia’s Marxist Derg regime (have absolutely no idea what all of that means, but Wikipedia says so!). The star emblem represents diversity and unity of the country. Blue for peace, star for diversity and unity and the sun’s rays for prosperity. The green of the rest of the flag stands for the land, yellow for peace (emphasis on peace) and red symbolises strength. (Sheldon Cooper should have me host ‘Fun with Flags’ one day).