A friend of mine lived and worked in Ethiopia for a while so we decided that our next dinner together would be at her favourite Ethiopian restaurant in town – Ensira. I’ve eaten Ethiopian once before, in Edmonton, with a very large group of people. I had a general expectation of what to expect – a large tray in the middle of the table with food piled on top. You use the soft bread (injera) to scoop up the food and eat with your hands. You definitely need to wash your hands both before and after this meal.
I let Angela order because she knew what everything was and had her favourites from Ethiopia. She picked three dishes for us to share:
Gomen Besiga ($16.95), defined on the menu as lamb or beef cubes, collard greens and onions gently cooked in butter seasoned with mild spices. This was the green stuff piled in the centre of the injera. I’m sure they used beef rather than lamb in our dish. There was a seasoning in this dish I’d never tasted before – it was Angela’s favourite, but not mine. It was good though – don’t get me wrong!
Tegabino Shiro Tetsom ($12.55). I think this turned out to be ground roasted chick peas cooked in Berber (Ethiopian pepper) with seasoned butter (vegetarian). The menu doesn’t actually include this item – we actually ordered the Bozena Shiro ($16.95) from the menu that was supposed to be made of ground chick peas and beef strips. There was definitely no beef in the dish we received, and the receipt said we got the Tegabino Shiro Tetsom for $4 less than the Bozena Shiro. Regardless of the fact that I didn’t really know what I was eating, this was my FAVE item. Maybe because it was reminiscent of Indian butter chicken – it has amazing flavour and was creamy and spicy (this was the red dish).
Chacha Tibs ($18.95), defined on the menu as lightly sautéed tender cubed pieces of lamb and french cut lamb ribs mixed with onion and hot pepper. The dish that we got was beef, and it certainly was not cubed. Regardless, it tasted really good. I have a thing with food getting stuck in my teeth (it makes me go just a little bit crazy), and this dry cooked beef definitely got stuck in my teeth.
Injera is the bread that our food was served on and that we used to eat our meal. Injera is made of flour from a grain called teff, mixed with water and allowed to ferment to several days, similar to sourdough bread. The dough is cooked and served similar to a pancake and is used as the base of the meal. The Gomen and Shiro were brought to the table in dishes and served on top of the injera. Using only our right hands, we unrolled the injera and used it to scoop up the gomen and shiro. This style of eating and using only one hand took some getting used to. And do not stick your fingers in your mouth or lick them – bad etiquette!
I ordered a St. George beer ($7) because I figured it would go better with the food than wine. This beer was great and definitely hit the spot. It was a nice lager with a sweet hint of flavour that really went well with the food. I would definitely order that beer again, regardless of whether I was eating Ethiopian food or not!
All in all I quite enjoyed the meal. The flavours were delicious and I was stuffed when I left. We didn’t actually finish all the food, either. I think this was a neat experience and I would recommend it for anyone who likes East Indian flavours and wants to try something different.