Tasting Ethiopian Cuisine

There is nothing I love more than eating adventurously! Something I’ve never done is eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant, but I had heard that the food is absolutely phenomenal. Just north of Indianapolis is an Ethiopian restaurant called St. Yared, and I set off to immerse myself in the decadent spices and flavors of Ethiopian cuisine.

The owner of this restaurant is incredibly kind and friendly. He seated us and then recommended different dishes on the menu as well as explaining the culture behind Ethiopian Cuisine. Where in America food is often rushed or an afterthought, in Ethiopia food is extremely important, a spiritual experience. It is believed that when Ethiopians sit down for a meal they are in the company of angels.

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My recommendation is to begin your meal with Ambasha, “a spiritually fulfilling and physically delightful, a spiced and freshly baked wheat bread, prepared to be “broken” in commemoration of the Last Supper. Ambasha is served with a homemade Ayib (Ethiopian cottage cheese) and honey.” It was delicious!

For an entree, one of the best ways to explore the food, especially if it’s your first time eating Ethiopian food, is to opt for one of the dinner combination platters. There are meat, vegetarian, vegan and seafood combinations, so there’s something for everyone! You can order combination meals for up to five people.

Tip: The servings are quite large. I recommend ordering a combination meal that is smaller than your party. When I went three of us split the meat combination for 2 and it was more than enough food, especially with our appetizer!

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In our Meat Combination for Two, we selected three meat dishes and two vegetarian dishes.

Doro Wot – “Two chicken drumsticks marinated in lemon then stewed in a delicious spicy berbere sauce with onions, garlic, and ginger root and served with a hardboiled egg and a side of Ayib cheese.”
Ye-Siga Tibs – “Primed and tender tip beef sauteéd in flavored onions, turmeric, peppers, garlic, and sliced, seeded jalapeños.”
Ye-Beg Alicha – “Tender pieces of cubed, boneless lamb marinated in onions, garlic, sliced & seeded jalapeños, turmeric and ginger root stewed and cooked in our St. Yared mild sauce.” 
Ye-Misir Wot – “Split red lentils simmered in our deliciously rich berbere sauce with onions, garlic, and ginger.”
Ye-Dinish Ena Carrot Alicha – “Potatoes and carrots stewed with onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric and a special St. Yared seasoning.”

Ethiopian food is not eaten with utensils. Instead it is served with Injera bread, which is a soft and spongey flat bread. It comes rolled on the side of the plate, and you tear off small pieces and use it to scoop up the food. It was different but fun, especially because the food was so good!

One of the sweetest moments of the meal came when the owner explained to us how Ethiopians show affection. The best way to tell someone “I love you,” is to feed them. Food is such a spiritual experience, that feeding someone else is the greatest way to show love. My friends and I decided to partake in this event. We must show love to everyone, right? And friends become as close as family, so we were thrilled to partake in this tradition.

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This was such a fun experience, and the food was spectacular. Don’t pass up this opportunity! Even if I can’t leave school and fly to Ethiopia, I can still experience a little of the culture right here in Indianapolis.

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