Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Eritrea

Eritrea 2011
Photo courtesy of the user thecomeupshow on Flickr.

Background: Formerly annexed by Ethiopia, but gained independence in 1993.  Has been in a border dispute with Ethiopia since 1998 that created a Temporary Security Zone (TSZ).
Location: Eastern Africa, on the Red Sea
Area: Over 117,000 sq km; 101st largest in the world
         Slightly larger than Pennsylvania
Official Languages: Tigrinya, Arabic, English
Population: Over 6 million; 107th largest in the world
Capital: Asmara
President: Isaias Afworki since 1993.  Supposed to have a five-year term, but there have been no elections since 1993.
Per Capita GDP: $700; 221st (out of 226 countries/territories) highest in the world.
Pronunciation: eriTRAYa, not erEEtria like I thought.

Source: CIA Factbook

Can we get two successful African countries in a row?  Let's find out!

The national dish of Eritrea is Injera, a slightly spongy bread.  It is also popular in Ethiopia, and you have probably eaten if you have ever been to an Ethiopian restaurant.  However, for reasons I don't fully remember, I decided not to try to make that for Eritrea.  Maybe in a few countries.  Instead I scoured the web and found Kulu'wa.  Chopped meat recipe with mostly familiar ingredients.  It actually seemed a bit similar to other African recipes I had done, which was a bit worrying.  I went with it anyway, though.

One of the reasons I picked this recipe is because it calls for berbere, a spice mixture I had some of!  So I bought everything else, came home, and...oops.  No berbere.  I must have gotten it confused with one of the multitudes of spices I have.  So I guess I have to make my own.  Luckily this blog also has a recipe for that!

That recipe, though, makes 3 cups.  I didn't need that much.  So I called in the cavalry.  Kevin helped: he did math.
So many spices!  Yet I still have so many more!
I believe he...1/16th the recipe?  I don't fully remember.  And ignore the cat ILLEGALLY on the counter.
Spoiler alert: Maybe Kevin didn't need to cut it by so much.  But that's for another post.

I worked on the chopping things while Kevin was out running.  Brendan wanted some attention, though, so he helped.

Ceramic knives are awesome.
Did I mention that there were a lot of spices involved?
1/16th teaspoon?

The rest was pretty simple.  Saute the onions, then add everything else (basically).  The liquid was supposed to evaporate and leave the flavoring on the beef.

As you can probably tell from what I said, the liquid did not evaporate.  It stayed pretty saucy.  And I didn't want to drain it, since that is where most of the spice was.  We decided to go with it.
Also, it was supposed to be served with bread, so we used what we had in the house: naan.  What?  Not the right part of the world?  I don't care!

Super-baby soars over the food.
So, did Africa win again?

Yes, yes it did.

This was delicious.  There was a ton of flavor.  Kevin had been worried the other spices wouldn't come through since there was so much cayenne.  He didn't need to.  They were subtle and delicate and awesome. And we were glad that the water didn't evaporate.  The sauce really helped it to have a good texture.

I can see where the injera would help.  You could soak up a lot of the flavor and really complete the meal.  As it was, it felt like it needed to be served on something, like rice.

Go out and make this.  It is worth it.  And it is a weeknight meal!

Next time: Estonia

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