Ethiopia has an innate and fascinating history of grain based culinary tradition. Accordingly many Ethiopian knows how to indulge their body and soul with different kinds of nutritious and healthy grains whether by making a national staple food out of it to a simple snack like Kolo – simply roasted grain mix.
Since Kolo has long shelf life, it is usually prepared in bulk, stored in a container and served in smaller portion on a little plate for the household members or esteemed Ethiopian household guests to nibble on delicious roasted grains.
Here in Ethiopia Kolo is usually enjoyed between meals, while having traditional coffee or drinking Ethiopian traditional home brewed beer (Tela).
Barley is the main grain which dominated the combination about 75% in preparing Kolo, Chickpeas and Sunflower seed cover the rest in completing the combination. The right kind of Barley grain which is locally known as Senef Kolo picked from the local market. Skillfully and patiently roasting the grains separately on a large roasting pan, creatively playing with it till it is evenly and beautifully roasted … brings out the delicious nutty flavor, delightful crunchiness and of course the genuine taste of this cherished Ethiopian snack – Kolo.
Within Ethiopian traditional home snack preparing practice, the other interesting detail that needs to be mentioned is the fact that two kind of paste are prepared to add flavor by literally coating the roasted grains with it. For savory flavor – exactly how many Ethiopians like it – the paste is prepared with a little bit of cooking oil and Berbere (Ethiopian spice mix). For a sweet taste, organic honey and crushed Nug (Niger Seed) blend is used.
Here in Addis Ababa and other parts of the country, there are many people who make a living by selling Kolo along the streets and around local open air bars as locals loves to enjoy their locally brewed beer along with home prepared Ethiopian snack – Kolo.
This home prepared Ethiopian snack is also packed and sold in little shops and mini supermarkets here in Addis Ababa. The kind of Kolo or roasted grain mix that usually can be found at these shops are, plain roasted barley grain, chickpeas, sunflower seed and added peanut.
For someone who wants to enjoy a particular Kolo – usually roasted chickpeas – which are separately packed, can also be found at these mini supermarkets.
Kolo is a much cherished travel companion for many Ethiopian travelers. From all travel bundles that many Ethiopian mothers won’t send their children without when they go away from home whether it is to go to school or for work in the other parts of the country or abroad, Kolo is at the top of the list.
In many monasteries around the country Kolo is more than a snack as many Ethiopian monks only eat Kolo especially during lent offerings as it is part of their esteemed religious practice.
Kolo is also served as nibbles during special occasions like major Ethiopian holidays, birthdays, religious celebrations and so on. Since Kolo is close to many Ethiopian hearts, it also function as a special gift to send for loved ones who lives far away from home as nibbling on one of the eloquent pieces of Ethiopia definitely ease nostalgia.
Something for the Road…from Ethiopia!