Eating In: You could do yourself an injera on Taste of Ethiopia's delicious food
Taste of Ethiopia
THE pandemic experience hasn’t been the same for everyone but the one thing it’s safe to say we’ve all had in common has been the need, in one way or another, in one aspect of life or another, to adapt.
Zahara Hundito worked in a restaurant kitchen, but when pandemic and lockdowns plunged the entire sector into crisis, it was time to adapt. So she and her husband Mohammednur looked into what they would need to do to set up a takeaway food service from their Belfast home.
With all the necessary administrative bits and pieces attended too – and a shiny five stars from the Scores on the Doors food hygiene ratings – they were ready to fill a significant hole in the city’s food landscape – and called it simply what it was: Taste of Ethiopia.
The couple are from the capital Addis Ababa but the dishes very much reflect the greatest hits of their native land’s culinary tradition. Google ‘Ethiopian food’ and this is what you get.
So it’s a lot of ‘wot’, stews of meat or vegetables, described here as curries to deflect any scepticism from a clientele unused to such things. It’s a sensible way to approach things, especially when dealing with someone absent-mindedly scrolling through a delivery app motivated by little more than the notion of not cooking for dinner.
Central to everything are the injera. Vast pancakes, rolled up like oversized placemats – which is kind of the intention – spongy and dotted with little bubbles. They say they’re sourdough and they really are.
This isn’t every other loaf you see proudly proclaiming its sourness but not delivering much, if any, when it comes to taste. These have been fermented to produce tang in spades, possibly too much of you eat them by themselves. Expect your lips to pucker and to be pulling in your cheeks like a cartoon character sucking on a lemon.
But use them as they’re intended – as auxiliary plates with wot on top, then employed as cutlery with pieces torn off and used to scoop the rest of the food into your grateful mouth – and they come alive.
That’s especially true in the wot, all of which stand in a foundation of deep onion sweetness. That, as well as the heat and fragrance, is brought even more alive by the sharp fizz of the pancake. It’s utensils as seasoning and it’s brilliant.
The wot themselves are broadly split into ‘yellow’ – milder and glowing with turmeric – and ‘red’ – hotter, though nothing too fiery, flavoured with the classic berbere spice mix.
The beg alicha wot – yellow lamb curry, if you must – is gentle and comforting, the sweet meat cooked to almost melting point, while the chicken-filled doro key wot breaks a pleasurable sweat. Best of the reds, however, is the minchet abish, with minced beef cooked down and down into the sauce that looks like lava but gets the level of things just right, the heat coming late and just enough to know it’s there without getting carried away. The combination with the injera something else altogether.
The combination of flavours is where Taste of Ethiopia scores again and again. A piece of the injera with the sweet heat of the wot and the deep earthiness of the shiro wot – a smooth slick of roasted and ground yellow peas – takes things in another direction again, and if vegan’s the direction you’re looking for you’ll find yourself well served, with a platter of red and yellow dahls, as well as green and white cabbage.
Starters – deep fried parcels rammed with lentils, cabbage, chicken or beef – arrive at the door astonishingly crisp and hot, delivered by Mohammednur himself. Although they got up and running by partnering with delivery app Just Eat, and added their own website and app in collaboration with the OrderYoYo platform, staying as hands on as possible, he explains, is the only way the make sure everything is just the way it’s supposed to be.
In the spirit of the wot ‘curries’, they’re called ‘samosas’ and ‘spring rolls’. But what’s in a name? If you like a samosa, a spring roll or a curry you’ll probably like this. Actually, if you like food you’ll like this. And if you like yourself you should get this.
Andenet starters £5.50
Minchet abish £7
Beg Alicha Wot £6.50
Doro Key Wot £5.50
Shiro Wot £5
Injera x2 £4
Service fee £0.40