Arrived at Dahlak Eritrean restaurant and was a little worried. We were the only party there at 8:30pm. However, my concern was thrown out of the window when we received our food!
I had Ethiopian food before and really enjoyed it. Eritrean food sparked my interest since geographically the two countries are right next door! Turned out, Eritrean food was very similar to Ethiopian food. I asked our server what the differences were between Ethiopian and Eritrean food, and he said that they were largely the same, just slight difference in spice combination.
My favorite was the vegetable combo. It had okra, yellow split pea, green beans, red lentil, mustard green and cabbage. I loved the garlicky mustard green the most followed by the cabbage. All of them were very flavorful. The spices and herbs used were complex and difficult to discern unless I really focus on the flavors (I was not doing that since we were with friends and chatting over meal!)
Then, we had the meat combo. It had chicken, beef and lamb. The meats were diced in small cubes. They were tender and sauces were delicious. The lamb with hot pepper sauce was not very spicy.
Finally we had this chicken dish with mustard green and butter. It was tasty! I kept joking I wanted a bowl of rice to pour the sauce over it!
The injera were very similar to the Ethiopian ones. I loved the yeasty fermented flavor of the injera and found the spongy texture refreshing. The only other food I could recall having the spongy texture was the Chinese white sugar cake (a fermented rice sugar dessert) which I love! I had to watch how much injera I had because they were very filling and I went from hungry to bloating quickly!
Since reading “Yes Chef” by Marcus Samuelsson, I am inspired to make my own berbere, the quintessential Ethiopian spice for cooking. The recipe that I saw consisted of 16 different herbs and spices. Making the berbere would be an adventure on its own! I can just imagine how fragrant my kitchen or house will be!