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Zighny – Ethiopian Curry

Zighny is the Sudanese version of Ethiopian curry which has a typically intense and rich flavour, along with a deep and dark red colour. Growing up in Sudan we got hooked to the taste of Ethiopian curries common throughout Sudan. They are a bit of a speciality and you need a special type of curry paste called Berbere. This curry paste has a complex mixture of sun dried chillies and peppers along with minced garlic and lots of other spices. There are two types of this spice mixture; A powdery one and a paste version.

For years we have been using the powder spice mix to create fantastic Ethiopian curries in our homes. But then we discovered the paste which is extremely potent and rich. As a result in our Ethiopian curry we now use a mixture of both spice mixtures. You can make this with any meat but our favourite is chicken. Get a whole chicken and cut it into peices, leave the skin in there for extra richness.

The base of the sauce is made up of plenty of onions along with sieved tomatoes and stock. You might be wondering how you can try this recipe out. Well, you need to find an Ethiopian or Eritrean shop to get the paste, the intensity of which will reflect in the quality of the curry. Having said that, you will be surprised the at the pure deliciousness of this curry the first time you try it.

See the Egg? Yes that is a boiled egg which is typically served with this curry. Breaking into the Egg and using it to cool the spiciness of the curry is a very satisfying affair. Normally this type of curry is served with a soured flat bread called Injera. In Ethiopian restaurants they actually cover a whole serving tray with injera, then pour on top of it the curry and various sides. You then break off peices and eat your way through the dough until you have finished your meal; quite an experience in itself.

Photo By LollyKnit

As you can see, an Ethiopian meal normally has lots of little dishes on top of Injera. We normally can’t find time for all of this so we served ours with chapati, rice and home-made Raita. You dont have to be specific with the amounts or measurements either in this recipe. Your biggest choice is 1 lump or 2 of the curry paste to alter the intensity of the curry (we used 3!)

Zighny - Curry Recipe

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  • 4 Large Onions, chopped
  • 3-4 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • Ethiopian Curry Paste, Berbere, around 2-3 tsp
  • 1 tsp Ethiopian curry powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 carton creamed tomatoes (or can of chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 whole fresh chicken, cut into pieces (feel free to remove all or some of the skin)
  • Boiled Eggs (1-2 per person)


  • Gently fry the onion in oil for 5 minutes until softened
  • Add the cinnamon and continue to caremalise the onions for another 5 minutes
  • Add the chicken peices, black pepper and coriander seeds and fry on a high heat for a few minutes to sear the chicken
  • Add the tomato puree and garlic and continue frying for 1 minute
  • Add the chicken stock, creamed tomato, paprika and curry paste

  • Top with water until the chicken is just poking from the top
  • Reduce and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Boil your eggs, peel and set aside
  • Check the seasoning, add salt to taste, then add the curry powder
  • Allow to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes leaving you with a thick, rich gravy.
  • Finally throw in the boiled eggs and serve.

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  1. chad

    Love your pics …make it look very enticing…Will be trying your chinese bbq chicken soon:)
    Warm regards
    Chad, Sydney

    • The Mongolian Chef

      Thanks for your support hope you enjoy the recipe, let us know how you get on.

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