Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week, we remain in East Africa– in Eritrea, a landlocked country shrouded in controversy, tension, and some mystery. The following articles have some amazing, detailed, and in-depth information about the rarely travelled and high-conflict, yet incredibly beautiful and interesting country.
Eritrea was an Italian colony for about 50 years, is heavily influenced by the Middle East, and, of course, is an African country. All of these facts say a lot about the interesting flavours used in Eritrean cuisine. The national dish of Eritrea, according to good old Wikipedia, is Zigni– so that’s what we made. Zigni is also on Taste Atlas’ list of most popular Eritrean food. We used this recipe from Great British Chefs.
Berbere is a spice blend unique to Eritrea that is the key ingredient in Zigni. I couldn’t buy berbere locally but managed to score some on Amazon. If you like chilli powder, cinnamon, and cardamom (the predominant spices in the blend), you’ll love berbere. One of the main reasons for embarking on this challenge was to learn about new spices and flavours, so I was really excited about this recipe. Once the veggies were chopped and the beef seared, we could add the berbere.
While we cooked, we listened to some Eritrean music on Spotify:
After the veggies were softened, the beef chunks were coated in the spice blend, and the beef stock was added; the stew could simmer for about an hour and a half. While we waited, we enjoyed a cheese ball and an episode of Euphoria.
Finally, after what felt like ages of being teased by the aroma, the Zigni was ready to eat. It was so tasty. Zigni is zesty enough to feel like it has detoxification properties (kind of like Tom Yum Soup?) but the rich flavour made it feel like something you’d eat on a cozy winter day. (I’m starting to run out of adjectives to describe these meals with!!)
This meal is up there with my favourites so far. You should try it! And let us know if you do!