Friday, October 24, 2008

Ethiopian at Ghenet Brooklyn

Mmmmm, I love Ethiopian food and I love the event of going for Ethiopian, where the traditional way to eat is that you sit around a big plate laden down with a variety of dishes and eat with your fingers. I recently went with a group of friends to Ghenet Brooklyn (348 Douglass St. at 4th Ave., 718-230-4475), a sort-of-new addition to Park Slope's ever-changing 4th Avenue. The interior is warm and inviting, although A LOT of incense was burning off and on throughout our meal which was a tad overwhelming, but did not in any way negatively affect our experience of the food. The waitstaff is also friendly and helpful should you need some guidance with ordering, or modifying the incense-burning.

We started out with three appetizers, the Kitfo Tiklil (Classic Ethiopian steak tartar rolled in Kategna), Asa Tiklil (Tuna tartar rolled in Kategna), and an order of the Kategna (Toasted Injera coated with Berbere served with mild cheese). They two Tiklils looked almost the same, so I'll just include a photo of the Steak Tartar version which everyone seemed to prefer over the Tuna. It was more flavorful and had a bit more depth to it than the Tuna which was on the bland side. Each though was super spicy because of the Berbere spices used on the outside of the Kategna.

The Kategna appetizer was great and the mild cheese was wonderful - sort of tangy like a soft goat cheese and just as creamy. The Berbere is made from red chili peppers, onions, garlic and other spices, then sun-dried and mixed with more spices so it's REALLY hot, so be warned.

We then ordered a Combination Plate for Four which consisted of all the Vegetarian Dishes and four of the Meat Dishes. There were six of us, and it was more than plenty.

In the middle you have Gomem (Collard Greens), Engoudae Wett (Mushrooms with Berbere Sauce), and Fasolia (String Beans and Carrots in a caramelized onion sauce). Around the outside, starting at the top with the dark reddish section and going clockwise is Doro Wett (Chicken in a blend of Ethiopian spices), Atkelt Wett (Cabbage, Potato & Carrot cooked in a caramelized onion sauce), Sega Aletcha (Mild Beef Stew), Mesir Wett (a Lentil dish), Doro Aletcha (Mildly seasoned Chicken in a light onion sauce), Shiro Wett (a spicy bean dish), Sega Wett (Beef with Ethiopian spices), Aterkek Aletcha (Split Peas in a light sauce) and Shiro Aletcha (a Mild Bean dish in an herb sauce).

The descriptions are quite vague, not mentioning any of the specific spices, but they do have subtle differences in taste. The chicken dishes had a boiled egg in the middle of them, and the Doro Wett has a smoky, almost BBQ flavor. The Spicy Bean dish was not spicy at all, certainly not when compared to the Kategna in the appetizers. The Mushrooms were a big hit, as they were meaty and very flavorful. The Beef Stew was also popular, as it had chunks of tender meat, whereas the beef in the Sega Wett was a bit dry. Many of the bean dishes were on a the sweet side, and some of the vegetables had a tang to them.

The Injera, the big, spongy bread everything is served on and which you eat with was great, and we got an extra order. It almost tastes a bit like sourdough, as it has a little bite to it, which is nice in combination with the milder veggies and meats.

All in all the visit was a success. In the future, I wouldn't get so many appetizers, as the combination plates are more than enough. And I would've liked to have tried some dessert, like the Cream Caramel. I was also intrigued by the presence of Tiramisu on the menu!

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