Massawa

IMG_1472Last year I went to  Columbia U’s Ethiopian venue, Massawa, with two African natives, one being from Ethiopia. The Ethiopian ordered for us all in the native language. The meal that arrived was so memorable that I returned over the weekend. It’s a clear  winner for spicy food lovers.

Atmosphere
Its interesting, when you exit the 1 train to doorsteps of Columbia U, it does feel as though you’ve left Manhattan. Its quiet and relatively sedate, that is, if school is not in full swing. Massawa likewise feels calm and sedate. Warm, earthy, casual.

IMG_1469 IMG_1471

Food
With two Indian vegetarians I was curious how they would react to Ethiopian food. They loved it, claiming that the spices are similar to their regional Indian favorites. Come to think, that’s true; no matter what you order, likely you will pick up onion, garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander.

The other carnivore and I ordered the meat combo: Lamb, Chicken, Beef. Each of the dishes is a stew presented over ingera, the region’s teff-based bread, which is a thicker, spongier version of a tortilla with a pleasantly fermented flavor. Tear off some ingera, pick up some of the combo, relish in the spicy, savory flavors. The vegetarians were thrilled with their vegetarian combo.

We also ordered sambusa, which are the Ethiopian version of samosas – delicious. Crispy, filo-esque casing containing the filling (meat or veg) which is highly spiced with what I assume is bebere, the ubiquitous hot-pepper spice used in many an Ethiopian dish. Two dippings sauces accompany; one blisteringly hot, the other cooling.

Definitely try the Ethiopian coffee, which is a medium bodied coffee mixed with Chai spices. Surprisingly good!

Service
Its casual and friendly. There was only one person taking and delivering orders but the process was efficient. If you are in a hurry, you are probably at the wrong place but they will do their best to accommodate.

Price
Reasonable. Combo meat, sambusa, Ethiopian coffee – $25 per happy, full person.

Lunch: 29 Sept 2013

Massawa | 1239 Amsterdam | NYC 10027

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