What’s for dinner in Addis? Shiro and injera!

Food…Mmm food is never far from my thoughts. At home our meals are usually served with a staple of rice, pasta, bread, or potatoes. Here in Ethiopia, the staple is injera, a thick, sourdough crepe made from teff, the smallest grain in the world. This is rolled out on a plate and various dishes are served on top, then more injera is served rolled on the side of the plate from which you rip bite size chunks to dip into the other dishes to eat. No utensils, just your fingers and injera!

I love eating this way. There is something about direct contact with the food that makes you pay more attention to, connect more with, maybe even be more appreciative of the food you are eating.

Typically injera topped with one or more thick stews, or wats, and is served on a large platter and shared as a group, though it can also be served individually. We have been in shops mid-day when the guys working were sitting at the back sharing a platter of injera with rice and meat or shiro piled in the middle. (I haven’t yet had the guts to take a pic in one of those moments, though, so this is an “internet” picture!)

(Side commentary: It may sound weird, but we have a house helper. As a foreigner here you are expected to hire a helper. Part of the idea is that you, as a foreigner, are obviously wealthy and should do your part to give back to society by giving gainful employment to one or more individuals. Also, it just takes so much longer to accomplish daily tasks that I would do nothing but manage the kitchen if it weren’t for Menbi, the helper at this house.) Menbi was excited to show me how to make shiro and was very pleased that we enjoyed it when she made it for us before. I watched her last week and this week I get to make it. She said that I am Habasha (Ethiopian) today. 😊

This delicious, simple dish starts with minced onions, adds berbere spice (a ubiquitous spicy red powder that is a blend of local spices) then water and shiro powder (chickpea flour). Bring all of that to a boil, add some salt (maybe bullion powder) and butter and you, my friend, have shiro! Some regions add other veggies, and some add meat, but this is the basic version and I am happy to enjoy it this way.

We made shiro wat (stew made of lentils) and other side veggies for a complete dinner. Yum!

IF we have leftovers, pieces of injera mixed with the shiro, called firfir, and an egg on top makes a delicious breakfast!

Just for fun, here is a YouTube video of the Simpsons having an experience with Ethiopian food.

https://youtu.be/77dkSeuvq2c

I haven’t made injera, and I don’t have a recipe for that, but I do have one for shiro!

Shiro Recipe
Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, diced
  • Berbere spice mix
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 big scoops (½ cup?) shiro (chickpea) powder
  • 1 or 2 Chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 T butter (can be more if you want)
  • Dash of black pepper

Directions:

  • In a large saucepan, cook with onions with oil over med heat for 5 minutes
  • Add 1-5 tablespoons berbere (depending on how spicy you want it, we used 1 ½), stirring and adding a little water to keep from burning, until berbere is cooked, about 10 minutes
  • Pour 6 cups of water into pan and bring to boil
  • Sprinkle shiro powder into pan and boil for five minutes.
  • Add bullion cube and bring to a boil again. Then taste and maybe add more. (We added a second)
  • Add the butter and a dash of black pepper if desired
  • Sprinkle shiro powder into pan and boil for five minutes.
  • Add bullion cube and bring to a boil again. Then taste and maybe add more. (We added a second)
  • Add the butter and a dash of black pepper if desired

Oh golly! Have I mentioned how much I love injera and shiro? No, really, I must find an injera supplier when I get home!

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