I had the privilege of dining at the Tana Ethiopian Café & Restaurant with owner Abebe Habtemariam, where he prepared for us the traditional lamb stew known as Tibs in his menu which is served with injera. Made with tender, boneless leg of lamb, this quick-cooking staple can be found in many Ethiopian homes. Some cooks like it dry, but Habtemariam prefers it saucy–all the better for mopping up with Ethiopia’s crepe-like bread, injera.
As we ate together he talked about how this meal is usually eaten. “We all eat together in a large bowl; it gives the family love and closeness”. He adds that when customers of other ethnicity come into his restaurant they are fascinated by this tradition and often request to dine traditionally.
Living in Australia for 19 years, Mr Habtemariam said his love for cooking goes way back to when he was a kid. “Not many mothers taught their son to cook but my mother did, it brings me joy and happiness whenever I cook” he said.
He said the openness of the Australian society was one of the driving forces behind him opening his restaurant. “I didn’t open my restaurant for my people; I opened it as an opportunity for other cultures to taste my traditional food. I did so because most of the meals I prepare, many Ethiopians prepare in their homes and if my business was based around that, I wouldn’t make a profit”.
Mr Habtemariam was happy to share his recipe with us and we wish him all the best.
Tana Ethiopian Cafe & Restaurant, 2/119-121 Grange Rd, Allenby Gardens SA 5009
(Traditional Ethiopian lamb stew)
31/2 pounds trimmed boneless leg of lamb (diced)
1 Onions (Sliced)
2 Garlic (crushed)
4 Green Chilli (chopped)
2 Capsicum (Chopped)
¼ cup extra-virgin oil
(Mediterranean and Moroccan spices mixed together)
STEP 1: In a large enamelled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add half of the lamb to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned all over, 6 to 8 minutes.
STEP 2: Add the onions, garlic, capsicum, green chilli into the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 8 minutes.
Serve with Injera, naan, pita or other flatbread, or rice or couscous.