Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ethiopian paradise in NoLita

Originally uploaded by lools.

I have to admit that I'm not very curious about African food. I've always felt that the vegetarian options would be severely admitted. When I think of Africa, I think of wild boar and other exotic game. But Ghenet, a charming Ethiopian restaurant in NoLita has introduced me to a new cuisine where I have plenty to choose from.

I had a lovely dinner a few weeks ago with a close group of friends at Ghenet, which means "paradise." What's interesting about Ethiopian food is that it is quite pure as it has not been influenced by other cultures. And luckily for vegetarians like myself, the fact that Christians and Muslims (who make up most of the population of Ethiopia) observe so many meatless days means that the culture has developed a lot of vegetarian dishes made from assorted lentils and vegetables like cabbage, peas and spinach.

We ordered a vegetarian plate among other dishes to share. The food arrived on a big platter over a light Ethiopian style bread called injera. We were also served a separate plate of injeras. An injera is a chapati-dosa combo. It looks like a chapati but tastes like dosa because the dough is fermented and has a slightly sour taste. You tear off pieces of injera and scoop up veggies or lentils from the plate. The food felt very Indian but it was different at the same time.

The most tasty dish by far was Aterkek Alecha. It's a spciy yellow lentil dish. I even found the recipe from Ghenet's website:

1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups chopped red onion
2 cups yellow split peas
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
6 basil leaves.

1. Pour 1/4 cup oil into a heavy pot, and place over medium heat. Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and golden brown. Add remaining oil, and simmer over gentle heat.

2. Wash peas under running water until water runs clear. Place in pot with 6 cups water, add salt and bring to boil. Skim foam. Cook over medium heat until half done, about 20 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid, and add peas. Add minced garlic and ginger, and simmer gently about 25 minutes, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally and adding reserved water as needed to prevent sticking. Add jalapeños. Just before serving, add thin strips of basil to pan. Serve with injera.

Ghenet Restaurant
284 Mulberry St. & Houston St
New York, NY 10012


Blogger gs said...

"ghenet" you said means paradise.i think the urdu word is jannat for heaven.that is urdu influence.
and the food sounds truly are you going to take me to all these places.i would need more than one month.and when do i taste your cooking.

5:51 AM  
Blogger The Ubiquitous Mr. Siouxmoux said...

I would like to see that on Iron Chef.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Lulu said...

yeah, it would be fascinating to watch on Iron Chef - I'm so addicted to the show!

8:37 AM  
Blogger Manish said...

For delicious veggie Ethiopian, try Blue Nile in Berkeley; that delicious place across from Khan Zaman in the Haight; and Queen of Sheba in Hell's Kitchen. My only complaint is I leave stuffed!

5:36 PM  

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