Shiro (Spicy Ground Chickpea Stew)

Eritrean Entree

(Spicy Ground Chickpea Stew)


1 jalapeno
5 garlic cloves
1 large onion
1 large tomato
⅓ cup vegetable oil
3 cups water
2 tablespoons Berbere spice*
¾ cup chickpea or garbanzo flour*
1 teaspoon salt

Serves 4. Takes 50 minutes.

* = Can be found in Middle Easter or African supermarkets or online.


Seed jalapeno. Slice jalapeno into small circles. Mince garlic cloves and onion. Dice tomato. Cook onion at medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until it turns brown. Stir frequently. Add oil. Sauté for 2 minutes at medium heat. Stir frequently. Add garlic and tomato. Sauté at medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir frequently.

Add water. Bring to boil. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to low. Add Berbere spice. Add chickpea flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir with whisk after each tablespoon until lumps disappear. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes or until stew reaches your desired level of thickness. Add jalapeno circles and salt. Stir until well blended.


1) About 6,000 years ago, people everywhere grew terrified over solar eclipses. These eclipses meant that the moon god was eating the sun god. If the sun god got devoured, we’d have perpetual darkness. Crops wouldn’t grow in the perpetual gloom. It was all quite distressing.

2) 500 years later, Chief La Fong of the Rohohoe tribe was contemplating the infinite while eating Shiro in a bowl exactly like the one above. Amazing coincidence, isn’t it? Anyway, he noted that while he couldn’t see the bottom of the bowl, it was still there. Shiro had merely come between his eyes and the bottom of the bowl. La Fong then embarked on a campaign of conquest by invading during solar eclipses. He’d simply told the invaded tribe to surrender and he’d make the Moon give back the Sun. How do we know this? Culinary archeologists have decoded the Rohohoe alphabet, which was based on dried out doughnuts. We don’t have the doughnuts anymore. Someone dropped a safe on them. Ironically, the safe was meant to preserve the doughnuts. Oh well.


– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on

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