Birsin: Last week, we prepared red lentils in an Indian style. This week, we taste how the Eritreans prepare the same cuisine staple. Eritrea is small East African nation with a long Red Sea coastline. The people of Eritrea most recently have struggled for independence from the nations of Italy & Ethiopia — (& the cuisine of Eritrea whispers of each). Birsin is prepared with a flavor-base of onions & tomatoes, then mixed with a pungent garlic, ginger & ‘berbere’ spice paste, called ‘delek’, before finishing into a stew with curry powder. Traditionally, birsin is served with sourdough pancakes called ‘injera’. Any sourdough is lovely. Rice works too. Or, water it down for a larger serving of a more liquid-y soup.
Soca: A wonderful snack or meal from Southern Italy, these chick pea flour pancakes contain only bean flour, salt, pepper, oil, onion, & herbs. They are wonderful as is, warmed in the toaster, or broiled with pizza toppings.
Spelt-Berry Sauté: Spelt is a more ancient relative of wheat. This is significant because it remains more wild, & easier to digest — & on the growing side, requires far less fertilizer. Here, it is paired with the Italian trinity of aromatics (onion, celery, carrot — garlic, goes without saying) & tomato paste, offering a lovely complex carbohydrate side dish to any protein-rich food. It may also be added late to soups to provide a greater depth of flavor & texture.