63. Eritrea: Zigni

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Eritrea, is said to be one of the hidden gems of Africa, but because of their quarrels with it’s sworn enemy Ethiopia, Eritrea remains of the everyday travelers radar. In fact I have never heard of anyone visiting Eritrea.

But the capital city is supposed to look like the set of some old Italian movie! Imagine snorkeling or scuba diving in an almost untouched part of The Red Sea.  The Lonely Planet classifies Eritrea as  Africa’s most peaceful, secure and welcoming destinations, who would have thought?

No this is not Rome! Yes this is actually the capital of Eritrea: Asmara!
No this is not Rome! Yes this is actually the capital of Eritrea: Asmara!

Things you didn’t know about Eritrea:

  • Over the years, this is one country in the world where elections have been regularly scheduled and cancelled but none have actually ever been held.
  • This is probably one of the very few countries in the world that has only one political party- People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.
  • One of the world’s oldest human fossils was excavated here and many experts believe this country to be the cradle of the earth.
  • The port city of Adulis is one of Africa’s most ancient cities. The Greeks founded it in 600.

An amazing beefstew with an amazing spice blend!

Eritrean Beefstew


  • 2 lb stewing beef
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes in juice not drained
  • 3 minced scallions
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 4 tablespoons berbere (recipe below)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons oil
  • Salt
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, sear the beef cubes until browned. Add the onions and garlic.
  3. Cook 2 minutes. Add the berbere. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Finish by adding the tomatoes and their juice.
  5. Season lightly, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  6. Thirty minutes before the end of cooking, add the cilantro.
  7. The meat should fall apart easily and the sauce should be smooth.

Recipe Berbere Spiceblend


  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 8 cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch 4 épices (ginger, black peppper, cloves, nutmeg)
  1. In a pan, roast on low heat for 2 minutes the cardamom, coriander, ginger, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and spices 4.
  2. Allow to cool, stirring the mixture occasionally.
  3. Add garlic, onion, half the salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix everything.
  4. Set aside. In the pan, put chili pepper, white pepper, paprika, allspice and remaining salt. Toast on low heat for 1 minute.
  5. Pour the remaining water gradually, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the spice mixture, stir thoroughly and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes.
  7. Put this mixture in a jar.
  8. Cool and cover the top with a layer of oil. Keep 10 days in the refrigerator.

One thought on “63. Eritrea: Zigni

    Another Perspective said:
    August 11, 2015 at 02:52

    This was a beautiful blog!
    Really enjoyed it, I found it simple and easy to read.
    I shall be following, I post blogs on Eritrea also, I’ve written most recently on the migrant crisis, if you get a chance check it out. https://haveamal.wordpress.com/

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