east africa

65. Ethiopia: Red Lentil Edamame Stew

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Compared to the rest of Africa Ethiopia is a bit of an exception, because has never been colonized by a European power, except for a small period of time by the Italians. during the Second World War.

For 44 years Ethiopia was peacefully ruled by one man Emperor Haile Selassie. He did a lot of good things for the country in terms of modernization and making them part of the UN. Unfortunately border conflicts and famine got the better of him.

After the coup Ethiopia was ruled by dictators for 22 years. There are more then 70 different tribes in Ethiopia which makes it very difficult to please them all.

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Things you didn’t know about Ethiopia:

  • Ethiopia is about 7.5 years behind the United Kingdom. This is because Ethiopia is the only country in the world to have 13 months in a year. Ethiopians also celebrate New Year in September.
  • The legendary Ark of the Covenant, the relic said to hold the 10 Commandments, is claimed to be housed in a church in Ethiopia. Only one man, the guardian, is actually allowed to see the ark, so whether or not it is actually there remains a mystery.
  • Ever heard Rastafarians talking about Haile Selassie? He was an Ethiopian Emperor, born in 1892 and is worshipped by followers of the Rastafarian movement. He is not to be confused with legendary distance runner Haile Gebre Selassie!
  • Clocks are set differently! Many Ethiopians measure time from when the sun rises and count time based on dawn. So when the sun rises, it can already be 12:00. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it pretty quick.

If their is one expert in Ethiopian cuisine, it’s celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, that’s why I chose to make one of his recipes. I knew it would be good because it came from him, but in general I don’t really like lentils, to my surprise I loved these. Perhaps it’s combination of the spices or the bite of edamame beans. But this is an amazing recipe and so quick!

Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

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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!

Eritrea
Eritrean Beefstew

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53. Djibouti: Skoudehkaris (Djibouti Rice)

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To be completely honest I hadn’t the slightest idea there was a country called Djibouti let alone where in the world it was situated. After browsing my world map for a while I found a tiny little country next to Somalia right in the horn of Africa called Djibouti,so it’s in East-Africa! Great I haven’t had many East-African countries yet. It’s a quite young country it only declared independence 37 years ago, before that Djibouti was a French colony called French Somaliland. France took advantage of bountiful trade from the nearby Red Sea, Suez Canal and other countries such as Ethiopia, building the Franco-Ethiopian railway in 1897.

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Things you didn’t know about Djibouti:

  • Lake Asal: the third-lowest land depression on the planet, this saline lake is also the lowest point in Africa at 155 meters below sea level, and holds 10 times the salt content of any ocean.
  • It is the hottest inhabited in the world. Temperatures pass 45C/120F sometimes with and sometimes without humidity.
  • Space shuttles in need of an emergency landing can use Djibouti in the Grand Bara desert. Next time you are stuck in one and the engine fails, you know where to go. (I can’t prove this but it is a powerful and persistent rumor in Djibouti.)
  • Evaporation is the main activity. It makes the water go out from the famous Lake Assal. Even though the lake is very salty, it gives benefits to the life of the local people in Djibouti. People can use the salt for personal use. Sometimes, people also trade the salt for the commercial purpose.
  • If you want to use taxi, I suggest you to take it before the sunset. When the sunset comes, the fee will be raised 50%.

So this rice this is delicious. I never knew you could get so much flavor into plain rice! This dish did however remind of the first dish I ever cooked for this around the world project for Afghanistan so i you liked that one I can guarantee you will love this one aswell! It’s not refined food, but it’s good old comfort food you want to eat out of a bowl while crying during the Grey’s Anatomy Finale which is exactly what I did!

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