Monday, December 2, 2013

Ethiopian-American Fusion Foods

Tagabino with French Fries:
Tagabino is a thick, saucy, spicy, red dish served in most Ethiopian restaurants. It is always served boiling hot in a little clay pot and eaten with injera, which is soft and spongy like a pancake, and made from teff, a local grain that is high in protein and iron and is gluten-free. Injera is practically required for every meal, since it serves as a fork or spoon substitute as you scoop up each dish with your right hand and stuff it in your mouth. One day, when we were craving chili-cheese fries, I asked the water for 'tagabino ba chips', or french fries. He gave me a strange look and insisted that tagabino is eaten with injera, and that chips are eaten with ketchup. After failing to convince him to substitute, I ordered both items and ate them together, tossing aside the injera and ketchup. It was delicious! It wasn't exactly chili-cheese fries, but it was somehow even better. Try it - you won't be sorry you did!
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, minced
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp berbere spice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, de-seeded and minced
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp shiro powder (chickpea powder)
1 cup water
Our buddy, a 5th grader, selling sambusas
Cook the onions and salt in the oil over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until they are very soft. Add the berbere and cook another 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and tomato and cook another 5 minutes. Then add the cup of water and bring to a boil. Add the shiro powder slowly, stirring to prevent lumps and cook for another 5 minutes or so as it thickens.
Eat with home-made french fries and marvel at how the tagabino and french fries compliment each other!

Sambusa/rice/guacamole bowls:
Sambusas are similar to Indian samosas. Lentils and hot green peppers are stuffed inside a thin wrapper and deep-fried - probably in palm oil - then sold by street vendors on nearly every road in our town. They are best to buy right around sunset, when the sambusas are hot, fresh, and crispy, and the university students are out for their nightly stroll down the only paved road in town. They are each 2 birr (about 11 cents) and served in a torn piece of newspaper to absorb the oil and to resemble some level of sanitation. Alone, they are crispy and delicious, but if you take them home to eat with basmati rice and guacamole, they are out of this world! Let's call it Ethiopian-American-Indian-Mexican fusion food.

Green smoothie ingredients
Green Smoothie:
In an effort to combat the health repercussions of all the aforementioned oil, we started making green smoothies in the morning, substituting Ethiopian ingredients. Moringa is a local tree touted for its healthy green leaves, which are dried and ground into a powder that is chock-full of vitamins. As you might expect, it doesn't taste great, but it is disguised in this smoothie:
1 cup cold green tea or water
2 bananas
1 large handful of gomen, similar to kale
Dried berbere peppers for sale
1 tsp moringa powder
Juice of 2 limes 
Put in blender, pray for electricity to be working, blend all together for 1 minute, and enjoy your frothy green delight.

Shorba Addis (Curried Tomatoe Lentil Soup):
After watching the food documentary Forks Over Knives, we started checking their website since all their recipes are plant-based, and all we can reasonably get around here are plants. That is, unless you want to go to the local butcher who has an entire cow carcass hanging in his shop, complete with flies buzzing around. Who wants to wager a bet on how long that cow has been hanging there?? Anyways, this soup is delicious! If you can't find any Ethiopian berbere, we'll send you some.

p.s. Check your lentils for rocks if purchased in Ethiopia! You don't want to chip a tooth.
Butcher shop

1 comment:

  1. I am dying for Ethiopian food and that lentil tomato soup looks amazing! Now to figure out how to make something similar to berbere in Mexico :)