Category Archives: Ethiopian

OKC | Haiget’s

My OKC friend and I were sitting having coffee and talking  about important things like where to have lunch. She went over the high visibility places downtown then casually mentioned a former employee had just opened a restaurant close to her home in Edmond. When I probed a little more she mentioned it was an African venue but she didn’t know which country, maybe South Africa.

We opted for the local African venue since when we looked up it was already 1p. 4 hours of coffee talk, I guess that’s normal.

Turns out the restaurant, Haiget’s, is both Kenyan and Ethiopian. It’s owners are a young couple, she is from Ethiopia, he is from Kenya. The restaurant is named after her.

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Atmosphere

It’s a small place in a subtle strip in Edmond. Inside its lively and bright, the orange walls certainly help as does the bouncy background music, which might be from Kenya or Ethiopia but I wouldn’t know. Casual and family oriented; a few single diners interspersed between larger families.

Food

I’m no expert on African fare but having a few Ethiopian friends has afforded me some experience. This is the best Ethiopian food I’ve had to date, beating out the reigning champion in my mind, Massawa, the Ethiopian venue near Columbia U in NYC.

Next time I’ll wander into the unfamiliar Kenyan side of the menu but this time I ordered from the Ethiopian side – Lamb Tibs (left pic). Lamb cubes, ridiculously tender, in a Nitr Qibe base. Nitr Qibe is a spiced, clarified butter owing its flavour to Berbere, an unusual spice mix heavy on the chili, garlic, fenugreek and turmeric. The Tibs came with ingera, the slightly fermented teff-flour based bread used to scoop up everything else, and a side. The Kenyan recommended ‘Avocado Salad’ as a side and it was delicious – chunks of avocado, jalapeno and tomato in a olive-oil, lime vinaigrette.

My OKC friend, for her first experience with African food, ordered up the national dish of Ethiopia, Doro Wat (right pic), chicken drums in a Berbere based stew. She didn’t say much after the Kenyan explained how to eat the Wat, just an occasional ‘MMMmmm’, a global sound of approval.

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Service

Since Haiget’s is a family-owned and operated business catering to a small community, they rely on word of mouth testimonies. No surprise, their service is extremely personable. The Kenyan stopped by twice to check up on us and asked if there was anything else we wanted. He even brought out a sample of Mandazi, the Kenyan ‘donut’, a fried, slightly sweet bread roll, which was good on its own but better dipped into the sauce of either of our mains.

Price

Most everything was between $8-12, which is reasonable if not slightly less expensive than other Ethiopian venues I’ve tried. In any case, considering the quality, its definitely worth it.

My OKC friend was glad we went, taking one of their to-go menus for those nights when driving the whole 1/2 mile to pick up dinner would be so much more enjoyable than cooking at home. Me, I’ll be back, next time I’ll be digging into the Kenyan side of the menu.

Lunch: March 2015

Haiget’s | 308 W Edmond | Edmond, OK 73003

 

 

 

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Emanu

There is something very appealing about Ethiopian and Eritrean food; the little dollops of spicy stews served atop injera and of course, eating with your hands. While I  look for Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants in my travels, they are usually sparse save NYC or SF. So, it surprised me to find that sister had booked an Eritrean restaurant for her birthday. In Ohio.

Atmosphere
Emanu is a casual  venue located in the Pleasant Ridge area of Cincinnati. Inside is polished up for a place serving East African fare, which in my experience has typically been tantamount to eating in someone’s house. Comfortable wood tables and chairs are spaced widely about the soft modern space; floor to ceiling windows creates a pleasant connection to the park across the street. Make no mistake that soccer is front and center; the flat screens will be airing the games and the big poster on the wall will be keeping track of the scores. Those boys about the bar, they are not talking about women, they are reliving highlights or lowlights depending on the fate of their favourite teams.

Food
The spicy stews here are  vegetarian, chicken, lamb and beef. All were good but the veggie versions were better than the meat, particularly the yellow lentil misr wot – thick, creamy and the Berbere spice came shinning through without obfuscating the delicate, nutty flavour of the lentils. One might almost think the owners are vegetarians themselves.

The injera was light, moist without being sticky and slightly sour. I’ve tried repeatedly to make injera at home with absolutely no success, so I totally appreciate folks who can make this spongy, fermented bread to perfection.

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Service
Its possible our experience was an anomaly but the owners continually brought out items for us to try on the house. The magic words seemed to be ‘I’ve never tried …’ which resulted in the item appearing. Very knowledgeable  and extremely personable without becoming intrusive.

Price
Reasonable. 6 mains, 2 apps, 1 cheesecake, round of coffee/tea – $120

Niece and sister were so impressed with Emanu that they secretly scheduled yet another birthday celebration there later this year. I can see why and I’m likely to secretly crash that party if only for the yellow lentil misr wot.

Lunch: June 2014

Emanu | 6063 Montgomery | Cincinnati, OH

Doro Wot

IMG_1682Finally. I had to make more Berbere since I went a little overboard using my first batch in other experiments. This time I left the chicken whole rather than cubing; me thinks its makes for better presentation.

  • 2-3 lb Chicken ( I used whole thigh and breast this time)
  • 4 T Nitr Qibe
  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 T Ginger, chopped
  • 2 T Berbere
  • 2 C Water
  • Salt, pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper, set aside.  Heat Nitr Qibe in a large pan over medium heat, add onions and caramelize, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and ginger,stirring occasionally for another 5-6 minutes. Add Berbere and stir to mix. Add chicken and water, stir, raise heat to high until boiling, then reduce to low, cover and cook 30-40 minutes, occasionally turning chicken over. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan, raise heat to high, then boil sauce for 5 minutes to thicken. Return chicken to the pan to warm, then serve.

Featured here with tri-coloured pearl couscous (because I was not even going to attempt making injera).

Misr Wot

I tried two versions of Misr Wot this time, one with Chana Dal and the other with whole Moong. I liked both but prefer the Moong version for its a nuttier flavor.

  • 2 T Butter Nitr Qibe
  • 2 T Olive Oil Nitr Qibe
  • 1 C Chana Dal  (or other lentil)
  • 2 T Berbere
  • 1-2 Tomato, cored and diced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 C Water
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In a large pan, heat the Nitr Qibe over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sautee for 2 minutes. Add lentil of choice, Berbere, tomato and 2 C water, stir. Raise heat to high, boil briefly then reduce to medium low, cover and cook for 60 minutes or until lentils reach desired firmness, adding more water if the mix dries out.

Its good to start checking the mix at 45 minutes. Some lentils cook quickly, like chana dal, while the whole Moong version took about 90 minutes.

Some people prefer soupy Misr Wot but I like mine like a Texas chili; a spoon should stand up in the mix!

The Moong version is pictured here with Tumeric Rice.

Nitr Qibe

Nitr Qibe is a spiced butter used in the Ethiopian dishes Doro Wat (chichen stew) and Misr Wat (lentil stew).

Its straightforward to make, however, usually tandem to the butter version I also make an olive oil version, then I use both in recipes. Listed is the butter version. To make the olive oil version just swap out the butter for 1/2 C olive oil and for cooking method, just heat up the olive oil over medium heat, throw in the ingredients,  remove from heat, let sit for 30-60 minutes then strain off into a container. Luckily with olive oil version you don’t have the burden of keeping the mix warm so it doesn’t firm up.

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  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1 T Ginger, chopped
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 4-5 Cardamom Seeds
  • 3-4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 t Fenugreek
  • 1/2 t Tumeric

Over low heat melt the butter then stir in the remaining ingredients. Keep at low heat for 30-60 minutes. Cool slightly then strain off into a container.

I use just a plain ‘ol fine mesh strainer but purists will go further with cheesecloth or a coffee filter to get a clarified version. If you’re making Doro or Misr Wat, the clarification step is not terribly useful.

Berbere

Two dishes I make take several days to prepare. One is a mushroom-port lasagne, the other is the national dish of Ethiopia, Doro Wot. Why does it take so long? Because I insist on making everything from scratch.

The first step in making Doro Wat is to make the underlying spice, Berbere. I know there are purchasable versions of Berbere but I’ve found they lack strength and often, are too expensive.

The list of ingredients is long but I think once you make it, you’ll find many a salad, sandwich and snack can be transformed by its flavours.

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  • 2 t Cumin Seeds
  • 1 t Cardamom Seeds (not whole pods)
  • 1/4 t Whole Allspice
  • 2 t Ground Fenugreek
  • 1/2 t Coriander Seeds
  • 10 Small Dried Red Chilies
  • 1 t Ground Ginger
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1/4 t Ground Tumeric
  • 1 t Sea Salt
  • 2 T Sweet Paprika
  • 1/8 t Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 t Ground Nutmeg

Dry-fry the seeds and whole spices (cumin, cardamom, allspice, coriander, chili and clove) over med-high heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove to a plate, let cool.

Combine the dry-fried seeds and all remaining ingredients in a coffee grinder. Process to smooth powder. I’ve tried doing this is a blender and food processor but nothing works as well as a coffee grinder.

Next we will make, Nitr Qibe,  the spiced butter necessary for Doro Wot.

Sheger

Our work-lunch crew was looking for something different, something that would appeal to vegetarian and carnivoresIMG_1650, something spicy. Lucky for us we have an Ethiopian native in our group and he suggested we try the newest entry into Houston’s Ethiopian venues, Sheger. Counting Sheger, I think this brings the total up to a staggering 3 choices for Ethiopian dining in the Houston MSA!

Atmosphere
Located in a neglected strip mall slightly outside the loop on Bellaire Blvd, it has a simple in-house atmosphere. Its clean, efficient and a few eastern African faux-artifacts adorn. You are not here for decor or atmosphere, you are here for food.

Food
Ethiopian fare is typically very spicy stews served atop the native ‘bread’, injera. Injera is a fermented teff flour based bread; its soft, thick, pliable and slightly sour. Since you will not receive any utensils, you should already be aware of the eating method: Break off some injera and use it to pick up some stew. I ordered the Awaze Lamb. Awaze is a marinade made from bebere, which is a delicious spice blend, heavy on the hot pepper. The flavors were excellent: hot pepper, cumin, ginger, garlic, fenugreek. There was waaay too much for one person to eat, so you’re better off ordering one app and one dish to share with a plus one.

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Service
Sheger is obviously family-owned; there is one server and one cook. Orders were up in 15 minutes. While English was occasionally a stumbling block, the server helping us was patient and happy to explain the ingredients we did not know. The owner or someone related to the owner was having lunch at the adjoining table and he was quite happy to see our motley crew; making sure we were enjoying our lunches and occasionally popping back to the kitchen, possibly to make sure everything was running smoothly – I don’t speak Amharic, so he could have been just shooting the shit.

Price
Sheger is reasonable if you consider each dish, priced from $12-20, is really enough for two. All of us brought home half of our lunch for dinner.

The most-referenced Ethiopian restaurant in Houston is still Blue Nile, which is good, but I like Sheger for its comparable quality and a more in-house, casual atmosphere.

Lunch: 23 December 2013

Sheger Ethiopian | 5506-C Bellaire Blvd | HTX 77081