The flag was adopted in 1995. The colours were taken from the flag of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. The olive-branch wreath has 30 leaves to symbolise the 30 years that Eritrean people spent in struggle for their freedom.
DishesZigni Berbere (with berbere spice blend)
Time 2 hours
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £8
Capital Asmara
Population 6,081,196
Land mass 117,600 km2 (99th)
Languages No official language; Working language (Tigrinya, English, Arabic)
ReligionsChristianity (63%), Islam (36%)


Eritrea is a country in East Africa with a large coastline along the Red Sea. It is a multi-ethnic country with 9 different recognised ethnic groups, with communities dating back to the 1st or 2nd century AD. Following intervention by the UN, Ethiopia annexed Eritrea in 1962 and the Eritrean War of Independence ensued, until Eritrea gained independence in 1991.

Mwara made the classic Eritrean Zigni Berbere, which is a spicy chicken stew. It contains berbere – a spice blend central to Ethiopian cuisine but is also widely used in Eritrean cooking. It is a vibrant red colour, full of flavour and heat. The spice blend was delicious and there was half a jar left-over for another dish! It made for a delicious stew, which should be served with injera – a spongy flatbread.


Authentic Berbere Spice Blend


  • 2 tsp coriander seeds 
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds 
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 4 garlic cloves  
  • 5 dried red chilies, skinned + seeded + ground up
  • 3 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon


  1. Heat a skillet / heavy pan on a high heat. Toast all the seeds/pods and the chillies for about 3 minutes until fragrant. Shake the pan often to avoid the spices burning.
  2. Allow these spices to cool down. Then grind these with all the other ground spices and salt. Store in an airtight container for later use.

Zigni Berbere *vegan option


  • 50ml veg oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1kg skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cubed (use a tin of chickpeas or mock meat for vegan version)
  • 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp berbere
  • 125ml red wine (optional)
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • To serve: lemon wedges, coriander, rice, salad, Eritrean injera flatbreads


  1. Heat the veg oil in a large pan and add the onions, frying them for 5 minutes until they start to colour. Then add the garlic and fry for 3 more minutes until the onions are golden.
  2. Add the chicken (or whatever) to the onions and fry, turning, until the meat starts to change colour.
  3. Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on a low heat until the meat is tender (1-1½ hours). Taste, season and serve!

የመስግነካ  and see you in Estonia! M + B x

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