If Pebble Soup fell silent for a month it's because we went to Ethiopia...followed by a week in the Seychelles. Well Ethiopian airlines was going that way, so as a mate of mine remarked it would have been rude not to stop over.
On our first night in Addis Ababa at Tutu's hotel, Atelefugne, I was introduced to Shiro Tegamino and without knowing it, I embrassed Ethiopian eating habits there and then: Shiro under its various forms was going to be my staple food for the remainder of the trip.
Ethiopian food is varied, spicy and delicious. Always served on an Injera, a large, flat, dark pancake shaped, fermented bread made with tef, a tiny, tiny grain looking like sand. The tef dough is fermented for 3 days, cooked and served on a metal tray with dishes heaped on top, often shared by dinners.
The trick is to tear a little injera, pick a little of the toppings with it and scoop the lot, gracefully, into your mouth. He remarked that it was a bit like eating the tablecloth. Wats (or stews) come in two categories: vegetarian wats served mostly on Wednesday and Fridays which are Orthodox fasting days and meat or eggs stews.
Shiro Wat is anchored in that tradition, enjoyed by all, rich or poor, its simplicity is a great leveler. This dish is made of Shiro powder: dried, powdered legumes (mostly chickpeas), red lentils and Berbere spices: a blend of fenugreek, cardamon, ginger, chilies, cinnamon and many more.
Now for the taste: Injera's texture is a mixture of soft rubber and bubbles. Shiro Tegamino tastes a bit like refried beans but much more pleasing and to my mind much, much, nicer. I never got to see Shiro Tegamino being made from scratch but I can imagine it won't be long before, I try it at home. And hopefully with the rise of Ethiopian cuisine, someone out there will can it soon.