Have you ever had Ethiopian Genfo? Well, Asrat Adel has made some for you
Genfo is not discussed frequently in the canon of Ethiopian dishes, nor does it conform to Western notions of porridge. Take a deeper look at this simple dish and you will discover the results of geography, history, and evolution of a region.
Genfo is the Amharic name for a thick porridge eaten for breakfast in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where it is known as ga’at. The most typical version is made with barley flour, although it is recreated in the diaspora using wheat and occasionally corn meal. Flour that is sometimes dry-roasted before cooking is added to boiling water and stirred with a wooden dowel until smooth and very thick. The resulting porridge is stiff and slightly sticky when warm. Once mounded in a bowl, a well is created in the center. Some cooks will use the small Ethiopian coffee cups called finjal to form the perfect shape. The final step is to fill the well with niter kibbeh (tesmi in Eritrea), butter that has been clarified with spices, and the red-pepper-and-spice blend called berbere. The completed dish is served plain or flanked by scoops of yogurt.
To anyone familiar with Ethiopian restaurants, genfo’s appearance may come as a surprise. The solitary mound of dough in a bowl does not match the formula of stew on spongy flatbread. Like other Ethiopian dishes, it’s often shared and can be eaten with your hands, but it can get messy, so it’s not uncommon to eat genfo using a fork or spoon. Either way, bits of porridge pulled from the outside are dipped into the butter and spice mixture in the center. These Ethiopian flavors have come to represent the cuisine through centuries of trade and influence, both global and local.