Anna introduced me to a fantastic new restaurant today, Cafe Lalibela in Tempe. I was unfamiliar with Ethiopian food but knew she wouldn’t lead me astray.
It’s an interesting experience to order off of a menu where you have to look up every item on a legend, but I found a combination that sounded incredible.
This ended up being a perfect restaurant for the two of us, with Anna being a lifelong vegetarian, and me being one on and off for about three weeks – we had plenty of choices that didn’t involve beef or lamb.
I opted for the Chef’s Combination – spicy chicken stew, something similar to collard greens, salad and home made cheese, all served with injera bread.The menu describes this as A combination of doro wat, gomen and ayeb served with selata.
The best part of the meal was getting to use the bread as a utensil. I was somewhat fascinated with this spongy crepe-like bread. Here’s what wikipedia yielded:
The most valued grain used to make injera is from the tiny, iron-rich teff. However, its production is limited to certain middle elevations and regions with adequate rainfall, so it is relatively expensive for the average household. Because the overwhelming majority of highland Ethiopians are poor farming households that grow their own subsistence grain, wheat, barley, corn, and/or rice flour are sometimes used to replace some or all of the teff content. There are also different varieties of injera in Ethiopia, such as nech (white), kay (red) and tikur (black).
In making injera, teff flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days, as with sourdough starter. As a result of this process, injera has a slight sour taste. The injera is then ready to bake into large flat pancakes, done either on a specialized electric stove or, more commonly, on a clay plate (mogogo) placed over a fire. In terms of shape, Injera compares to the French crepe and the South Indian dosa as a flatbread cooked in a circle and used as a base for other foods. The taste and texture, however, are quite unique and unlike the crepe and dosa.
Anna ordered the Vegetarian Combination “a combination of misir wat, gomen, tikil gomen and fosolia served with selata.” In English this meant red lentils, cabbage and lots of other veggies.
Neither of us came close to finishing out meal and left fully content. Thank you for the experience Banana!