Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Taste Of Home

It's hard to believe Minte has been home almost 6 months! During that time, he and I have enjoyed our Sunday evenings together. The rest of the family is at church at Awana, and since he has not started attending it yet, he and I stay home. If the weather is nice, we'll play in the backyard or take a walk, sometimes we watch a movie, play card games, or work puzzles. We love that time together, and it has been a treasured time for me because he really opens up and talks to me about how he feels about things, and also tells me stories about his life in Ethiopia. What a gift these Sunday evenings have been!

In the past few weeks, one of our favorite things to do is also cook together. I haven't yet gathered all of the necessary spices to cook many of the dishes from the Ethiopian cookbooks we have (linked at the end of this post) but he was so excited when he found out we had some bere bere spice (Ethiopian chili powder), because he knew how to make one of his favorite spicy pasta dishes. He had seen his Ethiopian mother make it before, and had had it many times in his life. He literally jumped up and down at the thought of having it here.

A couple of weeks ago I asked him if I could photograph him making it and share his recipe on the blog.

First, I have to show you the cute cannister I found for keeping our bere bere spice. He was so excited to see that it is out with the other cannisters, and he can use it any time he wants on pasta, eggs, etc. (It really is a staple!) He seemed genuinely pleased that it is now a permanent part of the "decor" in our kitchen.

I found this one and a bigger one just like it recently at a Ross discount store in our area. In case you can't see it, here's a closer picture, so you can see the African women on it:

When he saw the women with baskets on their heads he said, "Ees Ee-tiopia!" Love it.
Here's what bere bere looks like. Like I said, it is a chili powder and it is VERY spicy. I was able to take his "recipe" and measure it out, and it comes out very spicy, so you may want to tone it down. He laughs because his pasta makes Mommy sweat. LOL

Here's the recipe:

Minte's Favorite Spicy Ethiopian Pasta

2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 (half) a large white onion, chopped
2+ tablespoons canola oil
3 1/2 teaspoons (or less!) of bere bere spice
pasta of your choice (we usually use spaghetti)

Saute the onion in a bit of oil, then add the tomatoes. Saute together for a few minutes, until onions begin to look clear and tomatoes are soft.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil and bere bere, 1 teaspoon at a time (Minte likes up to 3 1/2 teaspoons of it. I cut him off there, but he says that's not "too spicy." You be the judge.)
The result is a sauce the consistency of a paste. Sometimes he adds a bit more oil.
He likes just a small amount on his pasta, then he stirs it all to make a thin coating on it. A little goes a long way!

Every Sunday evening I also love how it makes the house smell, and I wonder what memories that aroma might be bringing back to him. Judging from his smile, they must be good ones.
I keep the rest of the spaghetti noodles in a ziploc bag next to a small container of the bere bere sauce, and he eats it for lunch during the week, or whenever he wants/ needs a "taste of home."

Here are a few cookbooks I have found. Minte loves to look through them, and I hope to be cooking from them soon.

Exotic Ethiopian Cooking: Society, Culture, Hospitality & Traditions

Foods Of Ethiopia

Discovery of a Continent
The Recipe of Love

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