Friday, June 3, 2011

The Ethiopian experience

When we went to Spokane a few weeks ago to visit my brother and his wife, they took us to this Ethiopian restaurant, Queen of Sheba. The ambience was beautiful. We sat on wooden stools inside this "hut" with wicker tables called "mesabs." It was so cool! There was one mesab for two people. No plates, no forks, no spoons. Hey, what are your hands and fingers for? The food was brought and placed in the round wicker tray atop the mesab. My husband and I ate off of one, while my brother and sis-in-law ate off of the other. Such a neat idea of sharing food and eating from one plate!

Best of all, of course, was the food. Quite similar to Indian cuisine, maybe a little bit milder. The "Yaterkik Alicha," which is split peas cooked with onions, peppers and herbs, tasted exactly like the Indian dal! Even "Yeme Shir Kikwat," which is split red lentils cooked in berbere sauce, was basically our dal! Both were delicious. The "Doro We't" was extremely tasty. It is the Ethiopian version of chicken curry! Interestingly, their berbere sauce is very similar to the standard masala/curry recipe in Indian cuisine consisting of cardamom, cumin, fenugreek, coriander seeds, pepper, chillies, onions/shallots and ginger. If you add garlic too, there, you have your curry! Anyway, all in all, the food there was simply delicious.

My brother ordered this dish called "Gomen" that was a stir-fry of cabbage, some onion and green bell pepper. It was all stir-fried in such a way that the cabbage and bell pepper were cooked, yet crunchy and very flavorful. (Yes, he was kind enough to give me a spoonful to taste!) In fact, here is a picture of what my bro and sis-in-law ate:

"Gomen" and "Yeme Shir Kikwat" to be eaten with Injera
Notice the beautiful wicker-table, the mesab. The light brown rolled up stuff and the one on which the two side dishes are kept is the "Injera"- their bread. In fact, more than bread, it resembles the Dosa.
Very spongy, a bit sour and err, cold. Yeah, if only they served it warm, I'd have enjoyed it more. Unlike dosa however, the injera is not made with rice. I first thought perhaps it is made with millet--- but apparently it is made with teff flour. The way to eat is to tear off pieces of injera, dip into the side dish or make little tacos and eat away. Now you know why there were no spoons or forks provided! The green veggie dish is the gomen.

Oh and here is another picture of what my husband and I ate. We ordered their combo platter that came with a little bit of everything:

Our combo platter
Notice the greens-- that is the "Ye'abesha Gomen." Collard greens cooked with onions, garlic and green peppers--- ridiculously good!

So the other day I wanted to eat Ethiopian food, the gomen, in particular. But who wanted to drive all the way to downtown, right? No problemo! I had cabbage, green bell pepper as well as some salad onions. Perfect! I went ahead and made it myself and I did a pretty swell job, I must say! It tasted pretty close to the one I tasted at Queen of Sheba. Imagine my excitement!

Ingredients:

1. Cabbage
2. Green bell pepper
3. Shallots or Salad Onions or a medium yellow or white onion
4. Salt
5. Some oil to stir-fry

Onion, Cabbage & Green bell pepper
Method:

As usual, like most of my recipes, this is super simple. Takes exactly 5 minutes!

1. Slice all the three veggies.
2. Take a pan, put in a couple teaspoons or so of cooking oil.
3. Once the oil is heated, throw in the veggies, starting with the onion, stir fry a bit. Then add the cabbage and the green bell pepper. Add salt per taste. Keep stirring.
4. After 5 minutes of stir-frying, turn off the stove. Yes, that is it!

Gomen made by yours sincerely!
So far I have made this awesome stir-fry about 3 times. Now all I need is a mesab and a couple wooden stools. And we can all eat off of one plate--- what a wonderful way to spread love!

BTW, check out  Queen of Sheba, Spokane
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Edit: June 8 2011: The link for the restaurant was incorrect (Thanks, brother!). The correct link is
http://queenofshebaspokane.com/

2 comments:

adibud34 said...

Mmm mmmm...... you need to edit the Queen of Sheba link, tis needs to be corrected!

Dreamer said...

Thanks for the correction!! ;) BTW, I am so excited!! Our local farmer's market has a "Sambusa Wrap" stall--- ethiopian food!!!! Twas yummm!!