I've had Ethiopian - Eritrean cuisine twice in my life. The first time ever was in 2000, when I went to see my dearest and best friend Leah in America. She picked me from San Francisco Airport and took me to an Ethiopian restaurant. I enjoyed and ate everything. The second time was when I lived in Scotland and I cooked the entire Ethiopian-Eritrean Menu that was featured in Celia Brooks World Vegetarian Classics cookbook. I was inspired to make everything from scratch, the Berbere Ethiopian Hot Spice Blend, the Nitteh Kibbeh - Spiced Clarified Butter and the Injera - Sourdough Flatbread, following the whole fermenting process that took a days. On the menu was Ye'atakilt W'et - Spicy Mixed Vegetable stew, Yedifin Miser Alicha We't - Mild Lentil Stew with Basil and Yeshiro We't - Stew of Spiced Powdered Chickpeas. For a cuisine that was both new to me and took an effort to make, I decided to invite some colleagues over. It made for an interesting meal, as it was different. I just wish I had blogged about it, but it was a couple of years before I got the blogging bug.
Well I share with you this story, as it was in this very same cookbook that I stumbled upon Spaghetti Zigni - Noodles with Hot Sauce. I wasn't quite sure about it assuming it was more of a recent fusion recipe, but a few years later when I was hiking through Glen Etive with some participants from Ethiopia and Eritrea it had been confirmed to me that this pasta dish actually existed. I have to admit, I had completely forgotten about the Zigni until recently when a volunteer in my workplace who is of Ethiopian origin reminded me of it and I was inspired to make it, I just wish I had been making it back all those years when I first flicked through the Celia Brooks cookbook.
Spaghetti Zigni hails back to the 1930s when the Italians tried and failed to colonise Ethiopia, however they did leave behind culinary influences. Zigni Spaghetti is one of those. Zigni is essentially pasta coated in a deep rich tomato sauce enhanced with the highly spiced Berbere blend. I know it don't look like much, but it packs a proper fiery, hot and spicy punch. Go on swivel you fork in it and give it a try.
Well these days along side Arriabiata, vegan Puttanesca and pesto coated Spaghetti, I have begun to make Zigni. It is now part of my fast food repertoire. I tend to have everything at home to make it for speedy meals . If you like Mexican and Indian cuisine, then I have no doubt you will like this. Recipe can be found in Celia Brooks World Vegetarian Classics , but in a nutshell it is Spaghetti in a Berbere spiced tomato sauce. Awesome! I am also sharing it with Eat Your Veg and Bangers and Mash for May's edition of Family Foodies event: the theme is Ciao Bambino - even though the spices here are distinctly Ethiopian and Eritrean, this is definitely Italian fusion food.