|Goshe, who was in charge of keeping us alive and out of trouble during our trek
This recipe comes from a man called Goshe, who acted as our ‘scout’ for the 250km trek we did in the Ethiopian Highlands and was, as far as I could tell, an absolute hero. Goshe was one of those infallible beings who I rarely saw eat, sleep or complain. He could walk for hours in blistering heat without drinking a drop of water, then stay awake all night keeping guard. He carried all our food, never broke into a sweat and gracefully made his way across rivers. One evening he slaughtered, butchered and then ate (almost completely to himself) a whole goat.
Goshe had been given the role of scout because of his local knowledge and respect he commanded in the villages we would be walking through. He had spent three years as a soldier defeating the Communist Derg and played an important role afterwards dividing up and redistributing land within his region – under the new Government each person was entitled to one hectare of land.
He must have done the job well, because in 1998 Goshe was voted by his community to be ‘local militia’, which he still is today. Think of a local militia as something in between a policeman, an elder and neighbourhood watch. Their role is to settle local disputes, reprimand criminals and keep the peace within the community. As well as this, Goshe is a full time farmer and father of seven.
When he told me about his role in the army and as local militia, I wondered whether he had ever been scared, so I asked him. He looked at me perplexed and said “no”, adding “but one time when I was in the army I saw a snake and was a little afraid. It was going into some rocks but moving slowly because it had just eaten a goat. I dragged it out from the rocks by its tail, trod on the head and cut it in half”. And all this because someone had told him that snake skin makes great belts…
|Some of the villages we walked through and stayed with (you can see our green tent on the right of the building
|Some girls from one of the villages we stayed in
Like most Ethiopians, Goshe is Orthodox Christian and is still fasting in the run-up to Easter, which is a week later than in the UK. Unlike the Protestant period of lent which lasts 40 days and nights, the Orthodox fasting period lasts for 56 days, during which time no animal products can be eaten.
It’s no surprise then, that when I get around to asking Goshe what his favourite meal is (bearing in mind this is now well over a week into fasting) he replies without hesitation “lamb tibs” – slices of meat that are cut into pieces or strips and pan fried in garlic, onion, butter and spices. Any part of the animal can be used, but in Goshe’s opinion “ribs make the best tibs”. It can also be cooked dry or saucy (the saucy version includes tomatoes), but for Goshe “the meat has to be dry when you cook it, so that it crisps up nicely”. “And who cooks the best tibs?” I ask. “Misiti” (my wife) he replies, with love in his eyes. THIS MAN?! A family man as well?! He goes on to explain that “last Easter was the best tibs yet”. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the meal, he was at home with his wife and children, but that was enough to make it a very memorable meal.
Over the Easter period I keep thinking of Goshe and how he must be so looking forward to his first lamb tibs after 56 days of abstinence and just how sweet that first taste of meat is going to taste on Easter Sunday.
|These men had butchered an ox in preparation for a wedding in their village
Recipe for Lamb Tibs
Rack of lamb ribs
250ml vegetable oil
2 big onions, finely diced
3 tbspn berbere pepper
1 tspn thyme
1 tspn rosemary
1 tspn ground fenugreek
½ tspn ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Begin by preparing your ribs. Separate the ribs from each other then chop roughly in half (you could probably get your butcher to do this for you). Place in a bowl of water with a couple of slices of lemon and a generous pinch of salt to draw out the impurities. After half an hour, remove the meat and pat dry using a clean tea towel or jay cloth. Make sure the meat has had a thorough pat down!
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions. Cook until they are beginning to brown being mindful they don’t char, this should take about 5 mins. Add the meat, berbere and some salt to the onions and continue to cook on high heat whilst the ribs are browned.
Once the ribs are browned add the thyme, rosemary, cumin, fenugreek and a couple of grinds of pepper to the pan and continue to cook until the ribs have turned a deeper brown and is cooked through. Turn the meat regularly to ensure even brown-age.
A couple of minutes before the ribs are ready, stir in garlic and ginger to the pan. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.
Eat immediately! You don’t want to be dealing with a plate of congealing meat.
|Goshe. The man, the myth, the legend.