Eritrean Culture

     

Our Foods & Recipes

Home About Warsai The History of Eritrea Welcome to Eritrea Asmara Our Foods & Recipes Books About Eritrea Travel Advisory San Diego Links

Are you ready to learn and experience the delicious foods and recipes of Eritrea? YES! Now it's about time to learn about Eritrean food practicies, recipes, and some key phrases in Eritrea's native language, Tigrinya. Come with me on the journey of a lifetime as we explore a country of hidden mysteries..

ERITREAN FOOD PRACTICIES 

Usual meal pattern: Three times a day. Breakfast is very light,   lunch and dinner are the major meals. Usually   prefer food very spicy.

Special Utensils:
Usual mode of eating Eritrean food is with fingers; however, silverware is used for other types of food.

Food beliefs and rituals: Prefer warm and soothing foods when ill such as chicken or beef soups, hot oat gruel with honey, hot tea, hot milk. No ice or cold drinks.

Usual diet: Usual diet consists of "Taita" or "enjera", a type of bread or pancake eaten with a meat or legume sauce or stew walled "Tsebhi" or "zigni." Taita is made mostly from cereal called "Taff"; however a mixture of cereals can be used to make taita. Legumes are an important part of the diet and are largely prepared in the form of stew or wot. Stew usually is very spicy and contains a variety of condiments, including onions, garlic, berbere (hot chili powder with other spices, cardamom, white and black cumin, basil, ginger, etc.).
Fruits and vegetables are not commonly eaten, except in some of the larger towns and during the period of religious fasting.

Fluids: Generally not enough water is consumed. Most prefer drinks at room temperature. Like to drink coffee and spice tea with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and lots of sugar.

Food prohibitions: There are considerable numbers of food avoidances that persist among different ethnic, social, occupational, religious, age, and gender groups. Coptic Orthodox Christians and Moslems strictly observed religious taboos that forbid eating meat of
wild animals, wild foul, snakes, wild and domestic pigs, dogs, horses, and shellfish. Coptic Christians do not eat meat or dairy for 200 days of each year. Food prescriptions. Preferences are chicken or beef soups, noodles and pasta, traditional hot oat gruel with honey. Most do not like bland foods.

Source: UC Davis Health System.Center for continuing nursing and medical      
education.

                                                         Eritrean Recipes

Enjoy the treasure's of Eritreans delicious food and recipes. We eat a variety of food most of which based on Taita or Ingera a flat bread similar to pancake or flat bread. It is eaten with many different types of Tsebhis ( sauces). Shiro, Zegni, and Dorho are among the popular ones. 

 Alicha 

      Title: Alicha 
 Categories: Meats
      Yield: 6 servings
 
      1 c  Onions; sliced
      2 tb Corn oil
      2 lb Meat with bone; beef, lamb
           -or goat, cut in 3 inch
           -pieces
      2 cl Garlic; sliced
      1 ts Salt; to taste
      1 ea Fresh hot green chili;
           -sliced
    1/4 ts Gingerroot; crushed, fresh
    1/4 ts Mustard seeds; crushed
    1/4 ts Caraway; crushed
    1/4 ts Tumeric; ground
  1 1/2 c  Water
 
  Alicha is a curry-like meal.
  
  
  In dry pan over medium heat, stir fry onions for 2 mins.  Add the oil
  and stir fry 1 minute longer.  Add the meat and brown 5 mins, stirring
  frequently.
  
  Add all of the spices and seasonings at one time and stir well.  Add
  the water and bring to a boil.  Cover the pan and cook over moderate
  heat for about 45 mins, or until the meat is tender.  Should the
  curry dry out too quickly, add another 1/2c water.  At the end of the
  45 mins, there should be very little sauce.
  
  Serve warm or at room temperature.
  
  


                 Eritrean Vegetable Bowl
                 
Serving Size  : 8    Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : African                          Vegetables
                Eritrean

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
   3      large         onions
   4      large         carrots
   3                       potatos
     1/4                  white cabbage
     1/4  cup          oil
   1      head         garlic
     1/2  Teaspoon      ground ginger
     1/2  Teaspoon      turmeric
     1/2  Teaspoon      black pepper
   1      Teaspoon       salt
   4      cups                water


This recipe is common to the Eritreans. My understanding is that these are 
NOT unique to them. Peel all vegetables , cut into small cubes. peel and mash 
the garlic. Heat oil in a large pan and add vegetables. cover and saute 2-3 minutes. 
Add the ginger, turmeric, pepper and salt and mix well. Add the water , stir and 
cook over very low flame for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot.

Eritrean- Tsebhi Shero (Eritrean Dry Peas Bowl)

 
                     *  Exported from  MasterCook  *
Recipe By     : Gad S. Sheaffer (gss@iil.intel.com)
Serving Size  : 8    Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : African                          Vegetables
                Eritrean

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
     1/2  kilogram      dry green peas
   3      large         onions
     1/2  cup           oil
   1      head          garlic
     1/2  Teaspoon      ground ginger
     1/2  Teaspoon      black pepper
   1      Teaspoon      salt
   3      cups          water

Soak the peas in tap water for 20 minutes. Peel the onions and cut into small 
cubes. Peel and mash the garlic. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion and 
garlic until golden. Add the ginger, pepper and salt and 2 cups water. Stir well, 
cover and bring to boil. When the water boil, add the peas and the rest of the 
water and cook 40 minutes on a medium-low flame. Serve hot Gad.
 

Tsebhi Dorho (Eritrean Chicken)

                     *  Exported from  MasterCook  *
Recipe By     : The Frugal Gourmet on our Immigrant Ancestors, Jeff Smith
Serving Size  : 1    Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Reg 4                            Sheryl D

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
   3      Lbs             Frying Chicken Cut Into 8 Pieces
                              Juice Of One Lime
   5      Cups          Thinly Sliced Red Onions
     1/2  Cup           Spiced Butter -- * See Note
     1/2  Cup           Berbere Sauce -- * See Note
     1/2  Cup           Dry Red Wine
   2      Cloves        Garlic -- Crushed
   2      Tsp             Cayenne
     1/2  Tsp            Grated Fresh Ginger
     1/2  Cup            Water
                               Salt To Taste
   4                          Hard Boiled Eggs -- Peeled
     1/2  Tsp            freshly ground

This was my first taste of Eritrean food - loved this so much that it has led me to 
try other Eritrean recipes.

Marinate the chicken pieces in the lime juice for  hour.  In a heavy saucepan 
sauté the onions in 2 tbsp of the spiced butter.  Cover the pot and cook the 
onions over low heat until they are very tender but not browned.

  Add the remaining butter to the pot along with the Berbere sauce, wine, garlic,
 cayenne and ginger. Add 1/2 cup of water and mix well.  Bring to a simmer and 
add the chicken pieces.  Cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken 
is tender, adding more water as necessary to keep the sauce from drying out.  
When the chicken is tender, add salt to taste. Add the eggs and heat through.  
Top with the black pepper prior to serving.  

*note - recipes for the spiced butter and Berbere sauce are included in this 
group of recipes 

Eritrean Hembasha

 
                     *  Exported from  MasterCook  *

Recipe By     : The African News Cookbook
Serving Size  : 1    Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Breads With Yeast                African

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
   1      tablespoon     Active dry yeast
     1/4  cup                Warm water
   2      tablespoons   Ground coriander
   1      teaspoon        Ground cardamom
     1/2  teaspoon       White pepper
   1      teaspoon        Ground fenugreek
   2      teaspoons      Salt
     1/3  cup                 Vegetable oil
   1 1/4  cups              Lukewarm water
   5      cups                Unbleached flour
   1      tablespoon     Cayenne
   2      tablespoons   Oil
     1/4  teaspoon       Ground ginger
   1      pinch               Ground cloves
     1/8  teaspoon       Cinnamon

Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes. Add the coriander, cinnamon,
white pepper, fenugreek, salt, oil and lukewarm water, and stir well. Slowly
add the flour until a mass forms. On a floured board, knead the dough for 10
minutes or until it is smooth and tiny bubbles form. (note: this recipe makes
a stickier dough than usual) 

 Reserve a 1-inch piece of dough. With floured hands spread the dough out on
an un-greased pizza pan. Using a sharp knife, score the dough in a design
similar to the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Place the reserved ball of dough in
the center of the scored dough. Cover and let rise one hour.

 Bake at 350F  for an hour or until golden brown. Combine the topping 
ingredients in a small bowl. While still warm brush the bread with topping.
Yield: 1 16-inch loaf.

 "The African News Cookbook"

Eritrean Flat Bread (Taita or ingera)

                     
Recipe By     : "Jennefer Hardin - PCD" 

Serving Size  : 1    Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Cornmeal

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
                        -----In A Large Bowl, Mix-----
   3      Cups          Self-Rising Flour
     1/2  Cup           Whole Wheat Flour
     1/2  Cup           Cornmeal -- or masa harina
   1      T                 Active Dry Yeast -- (one package)
   3 1/2  Cups        Warm Water

Let set in large bowl, covered, an hour or longer, until batter rises and becomes 
stretchy.  It can sit as long as 3-6 hours.  When ready, stir batter if liquid has 
settled on bottom.  Then whip in blender, 2 cups of batter at a time, thinning it 
with 1/2 - 3/4 cup water.  Batter will be quite thin.

Cook in non-stick frypan WITHOUT OIL over medium or medium-high heat.  
Use 1/2 cup batter per injera for a 12-inchpan or 1/3 cup batter for a 10-inch pan.
 Pour batter in heated pan and quickly swirl pan to spread batter as thin as 
possible.  Batter should be no thicker than 1/8-inch.  Do not turn over.  Injera 
does not easily stick or burn.  It is cooked through when bubbles appear all over 
the top.  Lay each injera on a clean towel for a minute or two, then stack in 
covered dish to keep warm.  Finished injera will be thicker than a crepe, but 
thinner than a pancake.

To serve, overlap a few injera on a platter and place stews on top (I think most 
kinds of spicy bean or veggie stews/curries would be great with this. For Eritrean
food, the spicier the better).  Or lay one injera on each dinner plate, and ladle 
stew servings on top.  Give each person three or more injera, rolled up or folded
 in quarters, to use for scooping up the stews.

I calculated that if you make 15 12-inch injeras, each would be about 120
calories, 3% CFF.  For a more authentic injera, add 1/2 cup taff flour (taff is
a kind of millet) and reduce the whole wheat flour to 1/4 cup.

NOTES:

Injera, a spongy crepe-like bread (slightly sour), is almost always eaten with
Eritrean stews.  If you've been to an Eritrean restaurant, they probably used
the injera as both plate and utensils.  The injera are layered on a round table
and the stews are piled on top -- then more injera are used to scoop up and eat
the stew.  And of course once the stew is gone the injera underneath it are
suffused with all the yummy juices. It takes a while to cook up each injera but
it's really easy.

Eritrean Lentils

 
MMMMM-----  
      Title: Eritrean Lentils
 Categories: Vegetarian
      Yield: 6 servings
 
      2 c  Dried lentils; picked over
           -and washed
      6 c  Water
    3/4 c  Anaheim green peppers;
           -seeded and chopped
      2 c  Red onions; peeled, chopped
    1/4 c  Spiced butter
      1 tb Grated fresh ginger
      2 cl Garlic; peeled, crushed
      1 tb Berbere sauce
           Freshly ground black
           -pepper to taste
 
  Boil the lentils in water for 5 mins.
  Drain, reserving liquid.
  
  In 4 quart saucepot, sauté the Anaheim peppers and onions in the spiced 
  butter until the onions are tender. Add the lentils, 4c of the reserved liquid, 
  and the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, over low 
  heat 35-40 mins, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  
  

Tsebhi Zegni 

 
MMMMM-----  
      Title: Tsebhi Zegni 
 Categories: Meats
      Yield: 6 servings
 
      3 lg Onions; chopped <4c>
      3 tb Corn oil
      3 tb Chow
      3 tb Tomato paste
      1 ts Salt; to taste
      2 c  Water
  1 1/2 lb Beef chuck; cut into
           -half inch cubes
 
  Tsebhi Zegni is a spiced beef stew.
  
  In dry pan over moderate heat, stir fry the onions for 4 minus to reduce the bulk,
   stirring constantly.  Add the oil and stir fry for about 1 minute longer.
  
  Add the chow and tomato paste and continue to fry.  Then add the salt and 1/4 
  of the water.  Stir well.  Add the beef cubes and the remaining water. Cover the 
  pan and cook for 45 minus, or until the beef is tender.  There should be a 
  moderate amount of sauce. Serve warm with Injera.

 

"Nekedem Belu"  Please dine with me

Eritrean Profile 1/33 - 10/29/94 (Culture and The Arts) by A. E.

What do a monk, a gourmet, a freedom fighter and an author have in common? Not much, you may say. But then you haven't met Abba (Father) Yissak Ghebreyesus. The 62-year-old academic joined the Capuchins (an order of Fransiscans) at the age of 24 and the EPLF at the age of 43. Perhaps the transition from Franciscan to writer to fighter can best be understood in the context of Abba Yissak's love of his country.

In 1969 from his monastery in Nefasit, Abba Yissak wrote a book called "Neke dem Belu", which roughly translated means, "Please dine with me". The 149-page document is a detailed atlas of Eritrean food, drinks and the homegrown ingredients that are used in its cooking. According to the Abba, there are more than 68 national dishes, 13 kinds of vegetables, 29 different fruits, - unique to Eritrea -17 different types of homemade bread and various spices to be found in the country. The Abba also gives a detailed information on how to prepare each and every dish, drink and spice and convincingly writes that Eritrea is a gourmet's paradise of natural produce and invention. "It used to worry me very much to hear people, especially young people, say that Eritrea has no dishes of its own, but only those inherited from its colonisers," explains the Abba. "I was chief cook in the monastery and I started to research our national dishes." His pride in the country's heritage led him to scorn both the traditions which "relegated" cooking to "women's work" and the politics which relegated Eritrea to being the poor cousin of bounteous Ethiopia.

Because this was 1974, things were happening outside the monastery that were to have a profound effect on the young gourmet's life. Traveling by bus from Segheneti to Asmara, where the official censor of the new regime was based, Abba Yissak was searched by soldiers determined to halt the spread of "inflammatory" propaganda of the freedom fighters. Seizing the monk's document of Neke dem Belu, the Ethiopian's soldiers gazed suspiciously at the "cryptic message" it contained. "Injera, shiro, ziggni, salt, peper...O" To the soldiers such terms could only be a coded recipe for revolution. Ignoring his protestations of innocence, the soldiers hauled Abba Yissak to prison while official spycatchers worked frantically to decode the message bubbling within Neke dem Belu. Frustrated, they released the suspect and sent him back to his monastery.

On his way back he took with him pamphlets of the EPLF and distributed them all the way to Segheneiti. Ironically the soldiers never searched him again, thinking that a holy man would not sympathise with those who took up arms. In 1975 the word was spread that Abba Yissak was an EPLF messanger and he left Segheneiti to join the field. He couldn't take his precious Neke dem Belu document with him but came back for it two years later after the EPLF liberated Segheneiti. But seeing the famine and devastation widespread in his country, he decided that the time was not right for a celebration of national food. Nevertheless believing what was written could be put into use after independence, he once more started working on his book.

In 1979 disaster struck - the document went missing. While its loss did not cause a major strategic upheaval within the ranks of the EPLF, it was a devastating blow to the Abba - who by this time had written six other books on Eritrea's customs, ancient monuments and history, as well as translating Italian works on these subjects. Despite launching a succesful line in beles (cactus fruit) jam and tomato sauce from a makeshift factory in Durfo, Wina and Nakfa, his heart often was on his lost, culinary work. It was not until 1984 that he was reunited with his manuscript, which was found in the dusty depths of the Logistics Office of the EPLF, five years later and several miles away from where he was stationed. Seizing it triumphantly he took it home to amend and edit, adding from the copious notes he had made in the field. Although fried snake and boj-boj , ad hoc features of the fighter menu, do not feature as traditional foods in his newly-published book, swa and Imchek have not been forgotten in Abba Yissak's Neke dem Belu. Further feasts are yours to discover - and hopefully it won't be long before "Neke dem Belu" is translated into English so that foreign guests can see that there is more to Eritrea than injera, shiro and ziggni.

                            

ERITREAN LANGUAGE

key phrases in Eritrea's native language, Tigrinya.

HELLO*** SELAM

GOOD BYE***SELAMAT/Chaw

HOW ARE YOU ***KEMEY ALEKA/ALEKI/ALEKUM/ALEKEN

THANK YOU***YEQNIYELEY

YES***OWE

WHAT IS YOUR NAME*** MEN SHIMKA/SHIMKI/SHIMKUM/SHIMKEN

PLEASE*** BEJAKA/BEJAKI/BEJAKUM/BEJAKEN

WHERE ARE YOU FROM*** KABEY IKA/IKI/IKEN/IKUM

Source: http://www.gms.ocps.k12.fl.us/student2/ERITREA/EDENNEW.HTML

 

Home ] About Warsai ] The History of Eritrea ] Welcome to Eritrea ] Asmara ] [ Our Foods & Recipes ] Books About Eritrea ] Travel Advisory ] San Diego ] Links ]

1