food · international

Review: Awaze Ethiopian Eritrean Restaurant

My first day in Raleigh was great! Along with the main event I attended (more on that in a couple of days), I also got to try a new Ethiopian restaurant. Despite coming to this area several times, I’d never known about any restaurants specializing in Ethiopian/Eritrean cuisine until today, when I researched it and discovered one less than 10 minutes away from my hotel.

Awaze Ethiopian Eritrean Restaurant sits unassumingly in a strip mall. Its simple storefront doesn’t begin to capture the deliciousness that lurks inside. I was greeted by a friendly young man and was seated immediately. I ordered the veggie platter, which, according to the menu, had 4 different vegetable sides. My order arrived quickly and everything looked delicious. To my surprise, there were actually SIX sides on the platter. I was delighted!

(from left to right) Misir azifa (sauteed lentils), fasolia (green beans), kik alicha (yellow split peas), miser wot (red lentils), tikil gomen (cabbage), gomen (collard greens)

The order came with a generous side of injera (flatbread). I ate to my heart’s content. As I ate my last few shreds of injera, the waiter asked if I wanted more – his timing was impeccable! However, I was stuffed and couldn’t eat another bite, so no more injera for me.

Mmm, injera

I was thoroughly pleased with the quality and flavor of my food, as well as the great service. I noticed that Awaze had been awarded for being the best Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh. The honor is obviously well deserved. I can’t recommend this place enough! If you love Ethiopian food and you’re in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, you must visit this restaurant. You won’t regret it!

food

No More Food Deliveries!

Happy Thursday friends! I’m coming to you all with a (mini) gripe. I don’t usually complain on this blog: after all, I believe that life is wonderful and good things are all around us. As a rule, I don’t complain.

However, I have my limits. And, because I have my limits, I feel that it’s time to put my foot down and turn over a new leaf. As we go into this next blogging year, I felt it was important to tell you all the change that I’m making.

You’ve read the title, so you have a clue what I’m talking about. As you all may know, I love food. Like, I really love it. I’m a huge fan of international cuisine, such as Thai, Indian, Kenyan, Jamaican, Ethiopian and (authentic) Chinese. As a result, I tended to order a lot of takeout and I enjoyed – for a time – having food delivered to me.

food

Well, doesn’t this look yummy!

Unfortunately, I’ve had a string of poor experiences over the past few months. Missing items, incorrect orders, food not being spiced/seasoned to the level requested … It was clear that something had to change because the quality of delivery orders that I received has steadily declined.

So, I’ve decided to quit ordering delivery and start making more dishes at home. I only have a surface-level knowledge of foreign cuisine, so it’ll be fun to learn more about how to prepare dishes from around the world. I’ll be blogging about these recipes and sharing my tips, tricks, and (yes) even my fails! I hope that you all stick around for the journey.

I’ll still be dining out and reviewing different restaurants, but as far as delivery goes? There will be a moratorium on that for an indefinite period. It’ll be more fun to learn how to cook and to share what I learn with you all. We’ll have fun together – I promise!

food · international

An Ethiopian Feast!

On Sunday, I was inspired to cook an Ethiopian-inspired meal. I’ve been slowly gathering my supplies: teff flour, cardamom and coriander, turmeric and lots of vegan butter and olive oil, etc.,. And this weekend felt like a good one for jumping into some authentic Ethiopian cooking.

I absolutely love Ethiopian food, and have been a big fan of the cuisine for quite a few years. The truth is, I could eat Ethiopian food every week. And that would be a fabulous option, except I actually enjoy cooking. Instead of spending money on lots of takeout, I chose to try my hand at authentic Ethiopian dishes: misr wat (red lentils), tikel gomen (only cabbage) and potatoes and carrots alicha, and injera.

Here’s the finished product:

IMG_2387

Don’t be deceived: it may not look appealing, but it was so delicious. Now, I’ve definitely tried preparing these dishes before (all except for the injera: this was my first time trying my hand at that). Many times I’ve attempted to prepare Ethiopian food but the seasoning was just OFF. What I eventually learned was that my berbere seasoning (a spice blend I purchased from Amazon) was way, way too hot. And I’m not heat-shy at all: I love spicy foods, and I couldn’t handle the overwhelming heat of Frontier Seasoning’s berbere. In all of my time eating Ethiopian food, I’d never had anything as spicy as the berbere mix that I was using. I had to find another way.

It was time to make my berbere from scratch. And, to paraphrase Robert Frost, that made all of the difference.

Everything was DELICIOUS. The berbere was perfectly balanced and not too spicy. And no, I didn’t write down what I did AT ALL. But, I’ll share the websites I used to make everything. I did a mashup of a couple of recipes, so nothing on my plate is 100% from any particular website.

Since I didn’t adhere to any singular recipe, I’ll put out all of my other disclaimers and advice, too:

  • I didn’t let the injera dough ferment for four days, as recommended. I had an alternate recipe that recommended that fermentation could occur in as little as one day, which was the case for me. The sour flavor wasn’t as strong as it would have been, had I let it sit longer. But I was still pleased with the outcome.
  • Fenugreek is a critical spice for the misr wat, and I didn’t have it. I found out later that it’s pretty hard to find in most grocery stores. But one website conveniently compared fenugreek to a mix of celery salt and maple syrup. So I threw in a little celery salt, and I was delighted with the result.
  • The misr wat looked nothing like what I was used to (when I purchase Ethiopian food), but I loved the flavor. I’ll tinker with some more recipes and post my results in the future.
  • I still have to perfect my injera technique, but I liked the overall result. I used teff flour only (no wheat or barley flour added), so that created the super-dark coloring. It was mildly sour and tasty, albeit a bit thicker than most restaurant-style injera.
  • The cabbage was done more like a stir-fry, since I didn’t want it cooked to mush. Since I cooked it a bit firm, it reheats wonderfully (it isn’t too mushy).
  • Save yourself some time and just cut up several onions and start sauteeing them initially. Then, just portion off the onions you need for each dish into a separate pot or pan, add some more butter (in my case, Earth Balance butter substitute) and olive oil, and resume cooking.

These are the websites I used for my recipes:

Caroline’s Cooking (Ethiopian Injera and Tikel Gomen)

Hapa Nom Nom (Misr Wat and Berbere Seasoning)

AllRecipes (Ethiopian Cabbage Dish)

How to Cook Great Ethiopian Food (I looked up a bunch of different recipes on this one)

Daring Gourmet (Injera recipe)

Have any of you tried cooking Ethiopian dishes? If so, let me know how that worked out for you, or if you have a favorite Ethiopian dish that you’ve perfected!