Upon hearing the mention of Ethiopian food, what pops into your mind? Is it spicy? Is it a stew? Perhaps it’s raw beef mixed with mitmita cardamom and butter?
Well if its the last one you get an A+ for not only being an expert on Ethiopian cuisine, but also an incredibly cultured individual. Perhaps you would be a great fit for our mini club?
Of course, there’s much more to it than raw beef, and in fact, Ethiopian cuisine is an entire myriad of deep flavours using a dizzying amount of ingredients for each seemingly simple dish. Seriously! It may come as offensive to some (or all), but most of the time, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was eating. The only way I could try and make sense of what was in front of me was to actually taste it and guess.
For example, what looked like a simple bean dish ended up packing some major flavour punches that I could only describe as….savoury. Dare I use the word umami? No, no. I can’t. That word needs to be extinguished from the foodie vocabulary pronto. But nevertheless, everything served in front of us that night was as complex in flavour as it comes and can never be replicated in my kitchen no matter how hard I try. (“Well duh Anne, you can’t compete with the talented chefs at Harambe with your instant-noodle level cooking abilities”)
I digress, let me move on.
Chef’s Platter (for 3)
The most recommended plan for eating at Harambe, or any Ethiopian place for that matter, is to go with the Chef’s Platter. This platter comes with:
Yebeg wot, Doro wot, and Alitcha wot with Harambe assorted vegetarian dishes from the menu with Harambe salad
All resting on top of an injera, a type of traditional Ethiopian bread that tastes like a pillowy sour dough crepe.
They also provide you with an extra basket of injeras to use as a vehicle for all of the dishes. (So wash them hands!)
I find the injeras to be a perfect compliment to the heavily spiced and flavourful dishes as the sourness cuts the oil and the heat. In the same way that saurkraut is used to cut the fattiness of sausages, or ketchup for everyone’s most beloved fried potatoes, the injera is the perfect pairing for Ethiopian “stews” as I’d like to call it.
Ye Assa Tibs
Fish of the Day ~ Pan fried and delicately seasoned with Ethiopian herbs and spices served with a side salad
This fish dish (say that 3 times fast) was a great addition to our meal. The fish was meaty and coated in a blend of spices that added a good amount of heat. It was a refreshing contrast in texture to the rest of the stews on the table!
Lean tender beef finely chopped tartar and mixed with mitmita cardamom and Ethiopian butter served raw or slightly cooked. Served with your choice of spinach or ayeb (Ethiopian cottage cheese)
And to the “adventurous” part of this dinner! Of course, the dishes above were new to most of us at the table too, but you gotta admit. Raw beef tartar with cottage cheese and spinach? Not your average meal!
It’s funny, I envisioned the dish to taste like tuna tartar before it made its way into my mouth–but once it did my brain did this weird double take thing where it went “wait what? why is it warm?” It definitely did not taste like tuna. Imagine the texture of ..negi toro..with the rich, butteriness of a medium rare steak. But grounded up.
Sorry that was a bad description. But with the saltiness of the cheese and the bitterness of the spinach and the sourness of the injera, this dish pretty much hit all of the flavour notes!
No dessert this time, but some of the people at our table ordered this Ethiopian coffee that came in a cute espresso cup. As you’d expect from coffee that comes in a cup of this size, it definitely had the bitter notes of your traditional espresso. But look at that crema! Despite being bitter, it was also very smooth and not sharp or sour at all.
And that concludes our Ethiopian dinner!
I seriously urge you all to try out this place–the owner is adorable and funny, the atmosphere is warm and cozy, and the food (the best part) is incontestably good.