Text Size

SCLogin

Nile Ethiopian Cuisine

Over the years a number of Ethiopian restaurants have tried to make a go of it in Orlando but all failed. But Nile Ethiopian Cuisine has been around for a good year and a half now, about a year longer than any of the others. I think this one is going to make it.

At the base of all Ethiopian food – literally – is injera, a spongy bread that resembles an immense pancake. (Indeed, injera is cooked like a pancake.) It is made from teff, the world’s smallest cereal grain. Whatever food you order, injera will serve as the platform, covering the bottom of a large round platter, the various stews grouped on top of it.

Stews, called wat, are the most common dishes. These might include variations of beef or chicken, but pork is never served. There are a few seafood selections on Nile’s menu, but Ethiopia is a landlocked country and seafood dishes are not common. Vegetarian wat versions feature lentils or split peas.

Ethiopian restaurants are wonderful places for vegetarians to dine as meatless meals are a big part of the country’s cultural heritage. About half of Ethiopia’s population is Muslim and the other half is comprised of Christians who observe nearly 200 days of fasting annually during which meat, poultry and dairy products may not be consumed.

Most wat include finely chopped onions and berbere, a red paste that might be compared to an Indian curry in that it is made with myriad spices and can be quite hot. Less spicy foods, called alicha, can be found on an Ethiopian menu but I wouldn’t call them mild – they’re still infused with onion, garlic and green pepper and have multiple layers of flavors.

At Nile, the vegetarian kik alicha ($10.95) was one of my favorites. It featured yellow split peas blended with onions and green peppers seasoned with a touch of garlic.

Doro wat ($12.95), something of a national dish, had small pieces of chicken blended with berbere and onions and served with a whole hard-boiled egg. Gored gored ($12.95), another well-known dish, had cubes of beef seasoned with red peppers, mitmita (another hot blend of spices) and butter.

Nile serves its own tej, a wine made from honey. It’s a cloudy, pale yellow liquid with a taste that is just a tad bitter, despite the honey base. It is presented in a small bulb with a narrow neck that looks like it is the decanter. But you drink the wine from this vessel, holding it between your first and second fingers with your palm up.

Coffee is Ethiopia’s top commodity and the coffee ceremony is a big part of a traditional meal. The coffee service area occupies a space in the front of the dining room. The whole beans are roasted in a small metal saucepan while incense burns nearby. When the beans are roasted the pan is brought to the table and waved about so the guests can enjoy the aroma. Once the beans are ground and brewed, the coffee is poured from a clay pot called a jebena into small handleless cups. It’s a very strong brew with a chewy texture and an aroma that is earthy and slightly charred. Desserts are not a part of a traditional Ethiopian menu.

I always thought one of the problems with past Ethiopian restaurants was their choice of location. Nile should do well in this location, at least with the influx of tourists who are usually up to trying something new. The question is whether locals will swallow their pride in order to swallow some wonderful Ethiopian food.

Related Articles/Posts
Taste of Pointe Orlando is Sunday, Created by Scott JosephTaste of Pointe Orlando is Sunday...
Get to the Pointe on Sunday for the annual Taste of Pointe Orlando, a food and beverage fundraiser for the Florida Hospital Esophageal Cancer Program. It's a ...
Khalid Benghallem Leaves Venetian Room, Created by Scott JosephKhalid Benghallem Leaves Venetian Room...
Khalid Benghallem who served as chef de cuisine for Caribe Royale and its estimable signature restaurant, the Venetian Room, has resigned. He is returning to hi...
Cafe Red Downtown, Created by Scott JosephCafe Red Downtown...
I finally got to eat a meal at Cafe Red Downtown. It's not like I hadn't tried before. Cafe Red is the new restaurant on Church Street from the folks who own...
Artisan's Table, Created by Scott JosephArtisan's Table...
I visited Artisan’s Table three times and dined there twice. The first visit did not go well. Artisan’s Table is the newest occupant of 22 E. Pine St. in do...
Divas of Dish: Spring Greens with Strawberries, Toasted Almonds, and Farmstead Stilton, Created by Pam Brandon and Anne-Marie DenicoleDivas of Dish: Spring Greens with Strawberries, Toasted Almonds, and F...
Photo by Matt Stroshane If you’re looking for a lovely salad for Easter brunch, this is it – a modern riff on that classic strawberry-spinach salad with overly...

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Thursday, 24th April 2014

What is a Flog?

A flog is a food blog with news and reviews of restaurants. Here you'll find all things edible, lots of things to drink, including expert wine advice, and lots of other stuff.


Scott's Newsletter

Please register to the site before you can sign for a list.
No account yet? Register