THE TABLE: ETHIOPIA – Millennia of History

In most poor areas in Ethiopia, it is not unusual for livestock to live in the living/sleeping quarters along with up to six or seven people in areas as small as 100-square feet. These quarters are made of mud with thatched roofs.
In most poor areas in Ethiopia, it is not unusual for livestock to live in the living/sleeping quarters along with up to six or seven people in areas as small as 100-square feet. These quarters are made of mud with thatched roofs.
Coffee is the most important export of Ethiopia. Shown here is a coffee ceremony.
Coffee is the most important export of Ethiopia. Shown here is a coffee ceremony.

Ethiopia is located on the Horn of Africa with more than 100-million inhabitants. This country covers 420,000 square miles that is the most populous landlocked country in the world. Only 0.7% of the area is covered with water.

It is a multilingual nation with about 80 or so languages spoken. There is no official language. Amharic seems to be the most common one used. The script known as “Ethiopic” is one of the oldest alphabets still in use today.

There is evidence that the anatomically modern man is Ethiopian. From this area man started migration to the Middle East and beyond. Extending back millennia, Ethiopia has always been a powerful and unique area of Africa and the world. In 1974 after 200,000 years – it fell into the hands of the Soviet Union’s communist dictatorship. In the early 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet Union it came under the rule of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic leadership. Today, it is a Free Parliamentary Republic with a President, a Prime Minister along with an upper and lower house. In 1994, Ethiopia’s 547-member assembly was formed and adoption of their constitution took place. In 1996 it was divided into 13 provinces.

It is the size of Bolivia sharing borders with Sudan-South Sudan-Djibouti-Eritrea-Somalia and Kenya. Ethiopia offers a wide variety of terrains — mountains, plateaus, lowlands and is semi-desert. This along with climate, soil and vegetation determined settlement.

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There are 31 species of mammals along with 856 species of birds found there.

There is a large list of endangered species — with the Ethiopian wolf high on the list. Many wild and cultivated vegetation is found throughout the country. It is faced with dwindling forests. Just between 1990 and 2005 – there was a loss of more than 13,048 square miles of wooded land. This was due to soil erosion, loss of soil nutrients and the reduction of biodiversity.

The capital is Addis Ababa and it is the largest city in Ethiopia. It is also referred to as “the political capital of Africa,” due to the city’s historical, political and diplomatic significance to the entire continent. It is home to numerous continental and international organizations including the headquarters of the African Union and United Nations Economic Committee for Africa, as well as Addis Ababa University.

Those looking for a better life in Ethiopia migrate to urban areas. Life is not so great in the larger areas -- but for the poor farm inhabitants it is better than living off the land. In most poor areas, it is not unusual for livestock to live in the living/sleeping quarters along with up to six or seven people in areas as small as 100-square feet. These quarters are made of mud with thatched roofs.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church sets many guidelines for fasting. Included are fasting on Wednesdays, Fridays and the entire Lenten period. A little more than 63% consider themselves to be Christians with about 34% Muslims with a sprinkling of other faiths.

Ethiopian cuisine is made up of vegetables and very spicy meat. A most popular dish is “wat” which is a stew. Eating utensils are optional with most people eating with their own hands – often scooping with pieces of bread. In most cases, food is eaten from a communal bowl and they are known to feed one another.

INJERA FLATBREAD

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups buckwheat flour

½ tsp. baking powder

1½ tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten

approx. 3 cups club soda

Whisk into a large bowl – flours, baking powder & salt. Add beaten eggs & 2½ cups of club soda & whisk until batter is smooth. Should have the consistency of pancake cake; add additional club soda if needed. Spread 10-inch frying pan lighting with cooking oil spray & heat until medium-heat.

Pour 1/3 cup of batter into pan when oil is hot. Tilt pan to coat batter on to pan. Cook for several minutes – flip to second side & cook until finished. Repeat procedure until batter is used – keep warm in oven while remaining flatbreads are being prepared. Best serve by placing 1 flatbread on plate – top with stew – place another flatbread on top to scoop up the food.

ETHIOPIAN CHICKPEA WAT (STEW)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large red onion

2 carrots – finely chopped

1 potato – peeled & chopped

½ tsp. each of cayenne pepper, paprika, ginger, salt & black pepper

¼ tsp. each cumin & cardamom

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 cup chickpeas – drained & rinsed

1 ½ cup water

1 cup frozen peas

Heat oil in large pot over medium-heat. Add onions & cook for about 5 minutes (until onions softened). Add carrots & potatoes & continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat & add in all seasonings & tomato paste. Add chickpeas & water – return to heat & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer (covered) for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender & flavor develops. Add more water if needed. Continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. Add peas and adjust seasoning if necessary. Ready to serve.

The origins for coffee beans is a place call Kefa (one of the 14 provinces).

It is the most important export of Ethiopian and represents about 60% of income to the country. Today, the process is still mostly done by hand. Coffee is an important ingredient in Ethiopian cooking & found in many types of their food. Coffee in these parts is referred to as “black gold.” The second largest export is maize (corn).

COFFEE PANCAKES

with Berry Syrup

2/3 cup coffee concentrate

2/3 cup milk

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 Tbsp. melted butter

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients together & stir until smooth. Spray frying pan with spray shortening & process to make pancakes in the size you desire.

BERRY SYRUP

1 cup fresh berries & 1/3 cup maple syrup.

In pan mash down berries until same consistency over heat – add maple syrup & low simmer until it is all combine. Ladle over top of coffee pancakes.

CELEBRATE LIFE EVERY DAY!

Let me hear from you: banjack303@verizon.net. Search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking as well as phoenixvillenews.com for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.”