Food Connections - Ethiopian Food
This is to in continuation of the mini-series that I had written earlier on the connections of various cuisines to others ... Below are the links to the previous relevant posts.
This time I am writing about Ethiopian cuisine (At Vayam's suggestion !).
Ethiopia is the only African nation that was not colonized by European colonial forces. It was briefly occupied by the Italians between 1936 and 1941. In terms of food connections, there is a large degree of influence by Indian cuisine and to a lesser extent by Italian cuisine.
Injera, a flat, sourdough pancake made of the indigenous grain called t'ef, is the country staple. The injera is typically served with either meat or vegetable sauces. Injera has been prepared since at least 100 B.C
The t'ef flour is mixed with water to form a dough and kneaded by hand. A leaven (ersho) is added. The leaven can be obtained in different ways, for example, a small amount of the previous enjera dough may be saved for the next dough or the bowl may be left uncleaned after the dough is made and the small quantity left will be sufficient for leavening.
This process is very similar to the process used to produce the batter for dosas/uthapams. And indeed, Injera is very similar to dosa, but its baked, not toasted.
Wot and Alicha, which are the staple side-dishes are very similar to Indian curries. Spices play an important role in most countries in Asia and Africa, and Ethiopia is no exception. Some of the spices are grown in Ethiopia, either cultivated or wild, and others are imported, mainly from India.
And there’s an Ethiopian appetizer called a sambusa, which consists of ground spiced vegetables or meat in a deep fried triangle of dough ... This is very similar to the "samosa", the Indian appetizer which consists of ground spiced vegetables or meat in a triangle of dough, deep-fried.
Another connection is with Italian food, drink, and culture, since Ethiopia was an Italian colony. There are usually a variety of espresso drinks on the menu in Ethiopian restaurants.
And of course, Ethiopia is the country of origin of coffee.
However, there are several non-food connections between India and Ethiopia, that are quite fascinating ! (Source: The Guardian)
Interestingly, Bollywood movies are immensely popular among Ethiopian youth and Indians walking down the streets of Addis Ababa have been greeted with "Namastes" !
India and Ethiopia, have had a long history of trade with import of Indian cloth and spices and export to India of gold and ivory (The African elephant has larger tusks than the Asian elephant)
Ethiopian slaves, known as Hapshi, were exported to India too, where they became concubines and palace guards and of course, palace guards, sooner or later seized power which gave rise to Hapshi dynasties in Gujarat, Bengal and Goa.
Indians were brought to Ethiopia for their technical skills. According to one account, it was an Indian architect who built the first castle in Gondar, a former capital.
Like other east African countries, Ethiopia once had a substantial Indian business community. That changed after the attempt on the life of the Italian fascist viceroy, Graziani, in 1937.
The fascists massacred Ethiopians in reprisal and a rumour circulated that the plot had been conceived in the shop of Mohammed Ali, the principal Indian merchant. All the Indians were expelled.
Traces of the Indian influence survive in Ethiopia's national language, Amharic. The word for tobacco, for example, is "surat", the name of the Gujarati city from which it was brought.
How wide spread the influence of India has been ... And how largely benign .....