Yohanis Gebreyesus’s cookbook Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa is both an educational and an inspirational addition to culinary libraries that encourages eating and cooking outside of your comfort zone.
From his introduction on, Gebreyesus leads his audience through a brief history of Ethiopia and its food. He provides tips and advice about the ingredients and equipment needed to complete the recipes. Early chapters cover two very important aspects of Ethiopian food: injera and other flatbreads; and the complex spice blends and pastes used in almost all of the nation’s dishes.
Introductory remarks preface each dish to explain either the significance of the recipes, their histories, or ingredients in them that play an important role. The book’s six chapters cover all aspects of the cuisine, from vegetables and fresh cheeses to snacks and drinks, and the recipes are easy to follow. A chapter on traditional Ethiopian breakfast foods spices up the morning ritual. Beautiful accompanying photographs capture the essence and spirit of the nation and its food.
Most recipes are based on traditional dishes, including Tender Lamb Cubes Simmered in a Mild Turmeric and Onion Sauce and Slow Cooked Spicy Chicken with Hard-Boiled Eggs. Some recipes put a modern twist on traditional dishes; others use traditional Ethiopian ingredients in more modern dishes, like Teff Tagliatelle with Sprouted Fenugreek and Carrots and Chicken in Tej Sauce with Oranges. Interspersed throughout the book are topical pages that cover subjects including the importance of teff (a fine grain taken from grass); Tej, a fermented honey wine; and the nation’s coffee production.
Cooking Ethiopian food is not for the fainthearted. For those who are not afraid of a good challenge in the kitchen, Yohanis Gebreyesus’s book, with its detailed and clear recipes, is a wonderful introduction to an ancient cuisine.
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