Over a year and a half ago I tried Ethiopian food for the first time. If the fact that I had not gone back to an Ethiopian restaurant since is any indication, let’s just say the experience did not go well. So when a friend of mine decided to have her birthday dinner at Ethiopian Diamond last Saturday night, I was game, but not without plans of picking up more food later. But much to my surprise, no additional food stop were necessary.
I think one of the main differences between this meal and the last was the injera (the Ethiopian bread used to scoop up food).
If you’ve read my last post, you’ll know that I despised the stuff at the last Ethiopian restaurant I was at (Addis Abeba). Not only did it taste like styrofoam to me but it sat in my stomach like a rock. And the worst part was I HAD to eat it if I planned on eating the rest of the food. With no other utensils around, it’s really the only choice you’ve got.
But this time around, I was so obsessed with my hatred for injera that I had an unfortunate incident at the restaurant. The name of the bread had escaped me while we were there and all I could think to say when the waitress brought it out was “here is the styrofoam bread!” My friends burst out laughing but I felt so bad. Thank goodness she didn’t hear me. But either way, it was quite rude of me and I should have given their injera a chance first.
This is especially true because the injera bread at Ethiopian Diamond was quite good. I was cautious at first, ripping off small pieces to scoop up the food we ordered but found that I surprisingly liked the taste. It tasted like sourdough bread, just softer and pillowy. I was waiting for the heaviness in my stomach to set in but that never happened either. I was shocked at my enjoyment and embarassed to have gone on and on about my dislike for injera when I hadn’t even tried theirs.
A friend who had read up on the restaurant chimed in with a factoid that this particular restaurant uses flour that has actually been imported from Ethiopia to make their injera. They feel the flavor wouldn’t be authentic if the ingredients came from different sources. And knowing this leads me to believe that real injera might not actually be so bad.
So I’d like to retract my comments in my earlier post on Ethiopian food and give the cuisine another chance. Not to mention, the rest of the food was good too!
I split the “Tibs Sampler” with two other people. This combination came with a mixture of lamb, beef and chicken, salad, and sides of spinach, collard greens and cabbage. The word tibs means sauteed meat, hence, we got the meat sampler. Each sampler also came with sambusa appetizers (not pictured here) which are essentially fried pastries filled with ingredients like beef, chicken, lentils, potatoes or what have you.
I also mooched off my friends next to me who ordered the vegetarian sampler platter. Complete with stews of lentils, chickpeas and split peas, I thought their food was all around delicious. It was also more scoopable with the injera whereas our meat didn’t have as much sauce. Try Ethiopian Ginger Vegetables for a vegetarian Ethiopian experience at home.
One of my favorite parts of the meal was the honey wine. The birthday girl ordered up a couple carafes of the stuff (which I believe is called Tej) and it was incredibly tasty. It went down like juice! Try this recipe for Ethiopian Honey Wine to give yourself the experience at home.
We ended with two desserts. One was a fried wonton in chocolate sauce called “My Happiness’ for the birthday girl and the other was a super rich and moist chocolate cake. They both were set atop more fried strips of dough.
Overall, Ethiopian Diamond was a great dinner choice for my friend’s birthday. The restaurant has many accolades, having been rated by Zagat, written up in the Chicago Tribune and even featured on the Hungry Hound, a segment of ABC News. So thanks Rachel for introducing me to better Ethiopian food. And Happy Birthday!