Quite often, Ethiopian food is served in Bohri thaal fashion, with the whole table plucking from injera. The best bit? Right at the end, when the stews are finished, and the runoff of the sauces has soaked into the injera.
By Meher Mirza (NDTV) |
The day I told my friends I was traveling to Ethiopia is the day I learned that Ethiopian food is The Next Big Thing. “Oh my god, you’re going to Ethiopia!” they gushed. “The food is excellent! How lucky you are!” I thought this was remarkable in a country (and city) that hasn’t shown much interest in any sort of African cuisine at all. As far as I know, Mumbai has a couple of Nigerian restaurants, which are mostly patronized by visiting Nigerians, and that’s it. I also remember reading about an Ethiopian food popup hosted by an Indian lady, but that seemed to be about the end of the matter.
Ethiopian food is quite spicy, which is surprising because the food seems almost calibrated to please Indian taste buds. There are many similarities in both cuisines – the use of chili being an important one. In Ethiopia, the chili is blended into the very popular Berbere Spice Mix. ‘Berbere’, in Amharic, the official Ethiopian language, means ‘hot’ and it was a spice mix that lived up to its name. Used as a base for dishes such as Misir Wot and Doro Wot, in conjunction with a variety of other spices and herbs, Berbere certainly appealed to my spice-loving Indian tongue. And it isn’t just the chili. Ethiopians use a lot of spices in their cooking, that are very well-known to us back here in India – think fenugreek, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom.
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