In light of it recently being Easter in Ethiopia, I wanted to focus this week’s segment of Rainbows x Fogbows on food! If you haven’t read the first post of this series, you can read it here. I cover a variety of dishes in this post, the dishes are a combination of what’s considered popular in both cultures and also dishes which I personally love, and recommend to anyone to try when they get a chance to. Read on to find out more about these dishes.
The Orthodox version of Lent in Ethiopia lasts for two months and during this period, no dairy, meat or poultry is consumed.So most people employ a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. I’ve never lasted the whole two months up until now, but it’s something I strive to do at some point in my life. Props to those that last the whole two months though. So when Easter comes around, everyone goes to town on eating all the dairy, meat and poultry they can find.
Let’s put the spotlight on Ethiopian cuisine.
Let’s cover the basics first. Injera and berbere are the two key features of most Ethiopian dishes. Injera is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a spongy texture made from “teff” – a gluten free flour- and it is used for eating most of the Ethiopian dishes. Berbere, on the other hand, is ground cayenne pepper which is meticulously prepared either at home or it can be purchased in any local market, and its the spice that is included in most of the stews or “wot”. Ethiopians are a fan of spicy food. It’s rare to find people who don’t like spicy food. The minority that doesn’t, either comprises of those with medical issues or those who have been scarred for life by a traumatic spicy burn. The alternative spice Ethiopians tend to use as much as berebere though is turmeric. One thing that’s unique about Ethiopian meals is that it is eaten with the hands rather than using utensils.
First, there’s a stew that is prepared.The generic version just consists of a stew made from onions fried in oil, and berbere and water being added to it, brought to a boil. You can add whatever floats your boat to the stew though, including cut up meat,vegetables and butter. Once the sauce is prepared, injera cut into small pieces is placed in the stew and mixed properly until the stew to injera ratio becomes even. The firfir can either be eaten on its own or with a roll of injera alongside it.
Ertib basically consists of a patty made of potatoes cut into super small pieces. These potatoes are marinated in chili pepper and then fried. You can request further toppings along with the potato patty such as eggs, or even ham and cheese, and you can also have a side of fries with it. Lately, this dish has been gaining a lot of recognition.
This is a dish that consists of minced meat marinated in butter and chili pepper. It can either be eaten raw or fried. Personally, though I’m not a fan of the raw kitfo, and I prefer eating the fried one.As sides, shredded cheese, greens fired in butter and “kocho”.
Doro wot is a stew, made from chicken.As sides, boiled egg and shredded cheese can be added. This dish is the most popular traditional food in Ethiopia that is eaten for most holidays, festivities and special occasions.
Now let’s put the spotlight on Japanese cuisine.
Japanese cuisine is glamorized for the rice and fish, but hey I figured I’d introduce you to other dishes today, that are equally awesome!
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “how you like” or “what you like”, and yaki meaning “grill”. Apparently during WWII when there was a short supply of rice, a simpler version of Okonomiyaki (made with readily available ingredients) became popular. The wheat pancake was filling and inexpensive and was often served as a snack to children.
Sushi is one of the most well-known Japanese dishes. It is a dish consisting of small balls or rolls of vinegar-flavored cold rice served along with a garnish of vegetables, egg, or raw seafood ranging from salmon to shrimp. As a dip wasabi and soy sauce are combined.
Shabu-shabu is a hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water.The food is cooked piece by piece by the diner at the table. The cooked meat and vegetables are usually dipped in sesame seed sauce before eating, and served with a bowl of steamed white rice Once the meat and vegetables have been eaten, leftover broth from the pot is generally combined with the remaining rice, and the resulting soup is usually eaten last.
Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat noodles. They differ slightly from thick wheat noodles, called ‘udon’. Soba noodles are generally thinner than udon noodles — they look like flat spaghetti and are usually light to dark brown-gray in color Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup.
I’m a disgrace to all Japanese since I cannot for the life of me slurp. I’m the awkward one that eats silently while everyone is busy slurping away. Dad has been nagging me for years to get into the habit of slurping, but I simply cannot get myself to do it. The significance behind slurping is to show your appreciation of the taste of the Soba and Udon to the max and fully absorb the taste of it.
That’s it for my segment of Rainbows x Fogbows. Hope you all got some insight on these dishes from Japan and Ethiopia. Do share your thoughts on these dishes and what you’d like to try if you ever visit either of these countries.
Stay tuned for more Mikaesque posts~