(129) Ethiopia – Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils

Here we are, one country over from Somalia! Ethiopia also sits beside Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya. Other than its tasty coffee, Ethiopia is known for believing in 13 months are apart of the year, over half of the continents mountains are found here, and vegetarianism is very common.

Blue Nile Falls. Source: matadornetwork.com

Ethiopian cuisine as stated above can often leave have absence of meat. Injera, a fermented pancake-like flatbread is commonly used to scoop up the stews such as wat, a spicy meat stew. When meat is on the menu it is often full of heat that can pack a punch. Due to religious reasons pork and shellfish are less commonly found and consumed here.

The dish we made has a special seasoning called berbere, that is made up of several warming spices. The seasoning’s name comes from the Ethiopian word barbare meaning “hot” or “pepper” and was thought to have originated when Ethiopia controlled the Red Sea route on the Silk Road back in the 5th century. The lentils also share the berbere flavors making the entirety of the meal peppery, heated, and hearty.

I chose to use canned lentils which the original recipe had not called for. I would recommend using dried lentils so they could absorb the flavor and increase the depth of the meal. The food preparation and cooking is pretty simple with equal time of active and passive cooking.

I really enjoyed this dish savoring the heat and subtle sweetness. The chicken was very tender and had a crispy skin which so stinkin good! The flavors overall were unique and the vegetable blend was nice. We rated this one 7/10- Ian is not a lentil fan and would have rated higher if it was paired with rice.. something we will have to try!

(58) Nepal – Dal Bhat

Mountain Sinai. Source: Gadsventure

Today we travel back to Southern Asia to the country of Nepal. These country is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains (home to Mount Everest) bordered by China, India, and Bhutan. Due to its location in a harsh environment it is considered one of the least developed countries in the world. Nepal is known to honor their cows due to Hindu religion (one of the most popular religions of Nepal) which means they will not kill their cows even when they stop providing milk. At that time cows are released and the community will care for the free cows. How cute!

Cuisine of Nepal can be broken up into regions and understandably has strong Asian influence. Such regions are Himilayan, Newars, Khas, Lohorung, and Terai. Each have specific dishes and cooking preparation methods that are unique to the region (with some overlap). Today’s dish dal bhat is a lentil curry, sometimes soup-like in consistency, that is eaten throughout the country and neighboring China and India. Traditionally it is served over rice and is vegetarian or vegan dependent on the oil used for cooking. It’s served at the 17,000 ft base camp on Mount Everest to fuel the brave hikers on their journey to/from the summit. The recipe I followed can be found here.

This meal was super-duper easy and healthy. I don’t cook with lentils often, but I was intrigued by the mix of spices (which I admit did not measure out when preparing). Additionally it has few ingredients and is inexpensive to make. Have I caught your attention now?

We enjoyed this meal and the blend of spice giving a mild heat to the dish. The lime and cilantro helped balance the heat. It was by far the best lentil dish we have ever had. Ian felt that adding salsa would have made it better, but what doesn’t salsa make better? We rated this dish 7.25/10 and recommend it to anyone who has never had lentils before or enjoy the flavors of cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Let us know what you think by dropping a comment below!