This Monday our world wide dairy & gluten free weekly menu plan brought us to East Africa to enjoy the conversation-starting intimacy of injera from Eritrea with zigni, dorho tsebhi, alicha and shiro!
This delicious flatbread is made from fermented naturally gluten free teff flour and water. Now as strange as that may sound it really is as simple as that. The complicated part is letting the ingredients mingle over night in a bowl until it comes ‘alive’. Ladle it over a piping hot griddle and the magic of injera can be yours to enjoy.
Zigni and Dorho Tsebhi
A traditional Eritrean dinner platter includes various types of stews and sauces that are shared around a common table where the fare is scooped up with injera and together. The imagery was immediately attractive for me and I couldn’t wait to make some if the traditional stews that are typically part of such a feast.
Our zigni, a braised beef stew, and dorho tsebhi, a chicken variant, both came out wonderfully, and there was still a little extra berbere sauce to spare for those that wanted some extra spice. If you never have tried, you must make berbere sometime, it is a culinary education and inspiration all rolled into one.
Alicha and Shiro
Not without its vegetarian component, the alicha, tradotionally made with split peas, and shiro, a kind of puréed onion sauce, were also crucial parts that I refused to omit from my Eritrean injera experiment. As fortune would have it the split peas in my pantry were not actually splt at all, they were whole and would require much more time to cook. Feeling the crunch I confess to having substituted green peas instead. Before you judge let me just say that nobody in our family are great lovers of green peas … except for this night, when suddenly they were favoured dramatically by all. A sincere toast to the culinary goodness of Eritrea that allowed such a marvelous tranformation.
Ironically, what I truly thought would be the highlight of our meal, the shiro, unfortunately turned out to be only mediocre in the end. I still feel that overall this undertaking was a wild success and most of all a truly rewarding learning experience, but one day I will make perfect shiro to accompany my Eritrean injera!