In this day and age, many people are familiar and relatively comfortable with the concept of interracial dating, interracial marriage, and interracial children.
However, fewer people are familiar with intercultural relations. Both my husband and I are brown in complexion; however, he is Eritrean and I am not. The cultural differences and conflict we experience as a married couple is as complex as those experienced by an orthodox Jew married to a fundamental Christian. A Chinese married to a Ghanaian. An Alien married to a Homosapien.
Like most mothers of sons, mine was concerned that not only would I fail to meet her exceptional standards as a wife, but I would also fail to fully appreciate, embrace and understand her culture, language, religion and traditions. If I couldn’t (or rather wouldn’t) envelope all things Eritrean, how would I genuinely love her son, but more importantly, how could I properly raise children of Eritrean descent and teach them about their extraordinary heritage and history?
Without minimizing the generational extension of my own heritage and traditions, I, to the surprise of my mother-in-law, have more than embraced the Eritrean culture. Coincidentally, my embrace has less to do with my mother-in-law’s concerns or grievances and more to do with my children’s livelihood and future.
Perhaps by default, women, across all cultures and groups, tend to maintain, practice and teach the relevance of tradition, culture and language to children in the community. I want to offer my children similar ‘lessons’. With that said, I have little interest in helping my children to identify or root themselves in one particular category or existence. Instead, I am greatly motivated to give their presence on earth some context and existentially, some momentum. In doing so, I might ignite, in them, a vast appreciation for the history that came before them as well as illuminate their capacity to positively transform the story that lies in front of them.
As part of my efforts, I have learned to cook a handful of traditional Eritrean dishes, one of which is this delicious, comforting bread called Ambasha (Hambasha). In essence, it is made similarly to pizza dough, but it generally contains spices (i.e. ginger, fenugreek, cloves) and sometimes, raisins. Some people like to bake their bread, but I (as instructed by my mother-in-law) cook it in a large, non-stick pan on the stove top. I added honey to give the dough some depth of flavor; however, you do not need to do this. This recipe makes a wonderful snack to pack in a little one’s lunch box and/or with a cup of afternoon tea.
Serving: 1 loaf of bread
Adapted from Recipe Source
1 packet of active dry yeast
¼ cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of raw honey
2 cups of white whole-wheat flour
2 cups of bread flour and more, if necessary
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of raisins
2 teaspoons of salt
1 ¼ cup of warm water
¼ cup of raw honey
2 tablespoons of canola oil
Dissolve 1 packet of yeast with ¼ cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of honey. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until yeast is foamy.
In the meantime, in a standing mixer with dough hook application, add the flours, cinnamon, raisins and salt. Add the additional 1-¼ cup of warm water to the dissolved yeast. Turn mixer on to low and slowly add the yeast/water mixture. Mix for about 5 minutes, or until the dough starts to ball up and around the dough hook. Add more flour if dough does not form a ball or add more water if the dough is too dry. This dough should be slightly sticky.
Grease 1 large glass bowl with 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Place the dough in the glass bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let sit in a warm place for about 1 hour.
Using floured or greased hands spread the dough out on an ungreased pizza pan. Score the top of the dough using a design of your choice (traditionally, spokes similar to that of a bicycle wheel is used). Let sit for about 20 minutes.
Pre-heat a very large non-stick pan on the stove top. Place the dough in the pan, over medium heat, and let cook on one side for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the dough over in the pan and allow the other side to cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and allow the bread to cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool on a cooling rack. Serve warm!