“Because we have similar spices, similar flavors, Indian and Pakistani food makes sense for Ethiopians,” Tigist Tesfaw says.

By Maya Dukmasova (Chicago Redear) |

In Ethiopia most of the household activities are laid on the mom, the woman, and as a first child and as a girl I’m supposed to cook a lot. Since I’m eight or nine years old I was involved in a lot of cooking, baking. The simplest was shiro wot. The texture is like a paste when it’s cooked, but it’s simple, you can make it in a few minutes. It’s prepared from chickpea and yellow pea grains, and then we spice it, and then we make the powder. Every household has that powder, every household in Ethiopia—you can find it both in a rich house and in the poorest house.

I had a big single-family house with three bedrooms, kitchen, service quarters, outside in my home city, Hawassa, the capital of the south region. I was the executive director of the agency I established, serving women and children. I was really busy when I was there—too much responsibilities as a director. I used to work day and night, I didn’t have enough time for sleep. In the meantime I wanted to take care of my family, I would like to participate in the kitchen, I didn’t want to be far away from my kitchen.

Here, you don’t have anyone other than family to help with the kitchen, even to wash dishes. So I’m running to work, then when I’m coming back there is social life, so I’m busy always. I am cooking more here. Here the interaction with the people, it’s most of the time related with food, so if someone calls me for dinner or something, I want to bring something, I cook.

Most Ethiopian people don’t survive without injera. I have a sister who’s living in San Jose—when she goes back home she brings injera in the freezer. We have another way: injera chips. Back home they will dry it under the sun and then they make it in pieces. My mom always sends me that and then we make some sauce and mix it with that sauce. It will become like fresh injera, it soaks in the sauce.

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