serves 4

01 Ingredients

  • 1.2kg lamb knuckles

  • 4tbs lemon juice

  • 2 onions finely chopped

  • 4 large cloves garlic finely chopped

  • 3tbs fresh ginger finely grated

  • 5-6 tbs bebere spice

  • 1 tin Italian chopped tomatoes 

  • 1 large tbs Italian tomato puree 

  • ½ cup red wine

  • ½ cup hot chicken broth 

  • 4 hard boiled eggs shelled

  • Olive oil 

  • Chopped Italian parsley (or fresh coriander optional)

  • Salt

  • Unleavened bread, polenta or injera (traditional)

02 Preparation

  1. Rub the knuckles all over with fresh lemon juice. Marinate for 30 min

  2. Fry the onions on low in a heavy bottomed pot in some olive oil till translucent and soft

  3. Add extra olive oil, the garlic and ginger. 

  4. Simmer for 2 minutes

  5. Lower the heat and add the bebere spice

  6. Stir for 2 min to draw out the aromas, being cautious not to burn them

  7. Add the wine, raise the heat to medium, and cook for 2 min to reduce

  8. Add the chopped tomatoes and puree

  9. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add the knuckles with the lemon juice

  10. Ensure all the meat is covered with the sauce, topping up with some of the stock to cover, then add salt to taste

  11. Put the lid on, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for around 2 hours, with the lid partly open

  12. Stir occasionally lifting the gravy off the bottom

  13. Using a fork, prick holes over the surface of the boiled eggs

  14. Add gently into the pot, cover with the sauce and continue to gently simmer for another 15 min

  15. Test for seasoning and add if necessary

  16. The aim is for a thick, aromatic sauce that soaks into the meat while cooking

03 Plating

Plate into individual plates, with one egg per guest. Garnish with the parsley or coriander. Serve with the polenta/flat bread, and a simple rocket and avo salad dressed with lemon and olive oil.

Zigni is traditionally served with Injera, a flatbread from Ethiopia, made with fermented teff flour and water. It has an acquired definitive sour taste. Zigni is spooned onto this communal bread, and each guest pinches up portions of the zigni with the injera. Bones would need to be removed

Cook’s Notes

Zigni is a dish made by the Italian Eritreans where Nonno Acquisto was born. This Lamb version is my take on it. Also delicious with skinless chicken thighs on the bone. Chicken requires around 45 minutes of simmering.