Cheikh of Teranga (Senegalese cuisine) got together with Yohana of Kushina Catering (Ethiopian cuisine) to put on a dinner party unlike any other I've previously attended. The event was held at Ledet Ethiopian, in the Briarcliff-Clairmont area near Emory. The menu was new and exotic to me, yet approachable enough to avoid intimidating those of us who were new to African cuisine.
We started off with a house salad and some fried plantains.
As a South Floridian who married into the Cuban culture, I'm no stranger to plantains. But these plantains were special, as they were topped with a spiced tomato onion sauce. I know what you're thinking, "You mean salsa?" But no! That's the beautiful part about tomatoes and onions - they can taste like marinara or they can take like pico de gallo. These ingredients proved to be quite versatile throughout the dinner party, providing a new and exciting accent each time they appeared.
Does that look like salsa to you?! Oh my goodness, I could have eaten it by the spoonful. That little bit of sauce just may have been my favorite part of the evening!
We had three main courses, the first of which was Ethiopian.
Now, for those of you who are new to Ethiopian cuisine, I know what you're thinking, "I see three bowls of soup and a towel. The only thing that I know how to eat is that pepper right there, and I'm not sure how I feel about that." Fear not, our lovely hostess was happy to teach us how to eat Ethiopian style!
You simply scoop a little bit of the good stuff onto that flatbread thing (called injera), then pinch the bread around, pick it up and enjoy - no utensils necessary!
We had three Ethiopian dishes: Misir Wot (red lentils with berbere sauce, garlic and ginger), Key Wot (a spicy beef stew), and my favorite of the three, Alecha Wot (carrots and potatoes simmered in turmeric, garlic, and ginger). Turmeric adds such beautiful color to a dish.
Our second main course featured Senegalese cuisine. We had lamb, grilled with vinegar and Dijon mustard pickled shallots.
The Senegalese course also included vermicelle noodles with vegetables and raisins. It may sound a little strange, but the raisins absolutely made the dish.
Do you remember that incredible onion and olive sauce that Teranga had at the Goat Farm AUM?
They served it with their dishes at this event as well, and I shamelessly poured it all over both the lamb and the noodles.
Our third main course featured Zimbabwean cuisine from Kwashe's Catering. This included Peri-Peri chicken, sautéed kale, and Sadza, which was similar to polenta.
We then washed our hands to get ready for some dessert and some more fun.
We listened to a drummer tell stories through his instrument...
...and we ended up dancing quite a bit.
Then, our hosts began to prepare an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
While our beans roasted, we enjoyed some beignets and some Amarula.
Amarula is a creme liquor, kind of like Bailey's but much more interesting. You see, one of the main ingredients is the fruit from the Marula tree, which just so happens to be a favorite of the African Elephant. Amarula embraces this, and depicts an elephant on their label. In addition, they use their affiliation with the animal to contribute to elephant conservation. How cool is that?!
After learning about elephants and alcohol, we were ready to enjoy some coffee from coffe's native land.
The coffee was served with sugar, no cream, in Ethiopian tradition. We chatted with our fellow dinner guests, then sampled some hooka. I know it's the culture, but as a healthcare professional I must advise you not to smoke hooka because it's bad for you. However, butter is also bad for you and that's a significant part of our culture here in the South so...just...well, everything in moderation, y'all!
It was a great night. We made lots of new friends and learned a lot about some fascinating cultures. If you weren't able to make it to Africa Night, be sure to catch these guys at the next Atlanta Underground Market! You don't wanna miss it!
Disclaimer: Kushina Catering offered me a complimentary meal in return for editorial consideration, but everything in this review is my own unbiased opinion.