A plea for an Ethiopian restaurant in SBC
At the heart of this delicious cuisine, and served at every meal, is injera, a flatbread that has a sourdough-like flavor and a light spongy texture. Made from teff (a grass), the bread is gluten free, is a complete protein, and is high in all kinds of vital vitamins and minerals.
In keeping with the spirit of community, at an Ethiopian meal, the dishes are served in small mounds around one large platter, with a foundation of injera underneath. Additional rolled up injera are served on the side to serve as the utensils for the meal—no forks! To eat Ethiopian food, just tear off a piece of injera, scoop up some deliciousness, and pop it into your—or a loved one’s—mouth. After people have eaten enough of the dishes atop the injera, you can get to the best bit — the foundation that has soaked up all the juices.
Most Ethiopian food is seasoned with spices (of varying degrees of heat) akin to Indian curries or some types of Southwestern chilis. The main combination, known as berbere, includes chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, and more. The result is a flavor palate that is simultaneously somewhat familiar but entirely new.
I first heard of Ethiopian food back in graduate school when I was visiting a friend in Washington, D.C. He described it as bread with a plate of Gerber’s. This was wildly inaccurate. While some dishes are paste-like in consistency (or hummus-like to be more accurate), most are more akin to curries, stews, or fajitas.
After you have eaten enough of the dishes atop the injera, you can get to the best bit — the foundation that has soaked up all the juices. (Photo: Lesley Gilchrist)
My absolute favorite dish by far is Tibs, which can be made with bite size pieces of sirloin, tenderloin, lamb, chicken, or fish. This dish is usually made with spiced butter, tomato, garlic, onion, and a little jalapeno or other green chili. My favorite place to get it is Desta Ethiopian Kitchen in Atlanta. The cooks at Desta raise this dish to the highest possible levels of deliciousness, and we stop in every time we are heading East.
Alongside the tibs, we always get a variety of vegetables. If I could be a vegetarian anywhere, it would be in Ethiopia. Gomen (collards), tomato fit fit (tiny pieces of injera with tomatoes), miser (lentil stew), tikel gomen (a spiced cabbage dish), and more are all a treat for the senses.
Steak tartare aficionados might want to check out a plate of Kitfo, minced raw beef with spiced butter worked in. For those less adventurous, some restaurants, including Desta in Atlanta, will serve it cooked to order.
Another popular stew is Doro Wat, chicken and whole boiled eggs in a spicy, red stew. I tried this dish for the first time in New Orleans’ Café Abyssinia, a little hole in the wall place on Magazine Street, and it was a huge hit with the group of students I had brought.
My school’s Academic Decathlon team was studying Africa, so we had traveled to New Orleans to visit the African art exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art as well as Congo Square. While there, I thought it would be good to introduce them to my favorite African cuisine. They were instantly hooked and insisted that we try another Ethiopian place when we went to Frisco, Texas, for USAD Nationals.
In Dallas, we found another Desta, and it was also a hit! There we tried a tuna tartare version of Kitfo. A new “paste” type dish that none of us could identify came as one of the side dishes on our large platter. We all agreed that it was delicious, whatever it was! To echo Marge Simpson’s assessment (on the episode of The Simpsons called “The Food Wife”) —“That [was] good gloop!”
Desta, a popular name for Ethiopian restaurants, translates as joy or happiness. This is certainly what I feel every time I get to eat Ethiopian food! I figure that any food a whole group of teens loves is probably universally appealing. Next time you are in a larger city like Dallas or Houston or New Orleans or Atlanta, seek out some tibs and injera. You’ll be an instant fan!
(And somebody please open an Ethiopian restaurant in Shreveport/Bossier!)
SOURCE : SHREVEPORT TIMES