Many years back when I was travelling to the USA, I had a chance to taste Ethiopian food at a restaurant in Bay Area. I liked it. From then, I was looking for getting the food in Chennai, with no luck.
Fast forward to this year.
A few months ago, I went for lunch at a restaurant in Venus Colony, Alwarpet named Meena Tai’s that served Maharashtrian (Marathi) cuisine, which was different but was a bit bland for my taste. In that same complex, I noticed there were two other restaurants – one serving Parsi food, the other – wait for it – was serving Ethiopian cuisine. I went to that restaurant for dinner last Sunday and I enjoyed it. The wait for Chennaiaites was worth it.
Abyssinian is the only restaurant in Chennai that serves exclusively Ethiopian food. The place is small but cosy – has 4 round table, each with 4 chairs. The furniture is made for low seating, with the round table in the centre meant to encourage conversation and bring in a community dining experience of Ethiopia.
Since we are vegetarian, the choice for me and wife was simple. We went with ordering a single portion of Abyssinian tasting plate which along with two extra pieces of bread (Injera) costs Rs.920 with GST. It comes with a starter, main course and a dessert.
The main course was a big round flatbread called Injera, the signature dish of Ethiopian cuisine and is made from sourdough from teff or ragi flour. On top of this is served were 5 side dishes (called wat) – a pumpkin curry, dal curry, spinach curry, vegetable stew, and, onion & garlic stew. Along with this was 2 more pieces of small injera bread, cottage cheese, red chilli & cheese paste (like the chilli powder with gingerly oil paste served with Idli in Tamil Nadu).
The dessert was a cup of Ethiopian coffee served with a bowl of popcorn! I was surprised when the waiter suggested I add “salt” to the coffee, which I tried and it was different. The black coffee was too strong and bitter for my liking. It was not the Arabian coffee that I like, which will be a bit sweet.
Overall, we liked the food, the price was right and wife was happy with my restaurant pick – as husbands know, I couldn’t be asking for anything more than that!