India’s scintillating march to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final got me glued to the television entire event. Since I live in Singapore, the NRIs here are spared from the non-stop bombardment of television ads and running tickers during the matches. What we end up repeatedly watching on Star Cricket channel, during breaks, are snippets of a Virender Sehwag rooftop bus ride interview. Riding over streets of London, he gushes about Ethiopian cuisine being his favourite – ‘kamaal ka khana hota hai’!
Being a food blogger and trusting a swashbuckling ‘Punjab da Munda’ icon on his food choices, I set about searching Ethiopian restaurant in my resident country … with disappointment. Despite being one of the world’s most cosmopolitan city-country, Google couldn’t locate any popular restaurant with African cuisine at Singapore. It reminded me of a Melbourne Test Cricket match in Dec 2003; where my excitement lost way in between. Veeru Paaji smashed the world’s best bowlers en route to scoring a 195 which no fan of cricket will ever forget, but the match ended in disappointment.
My search then got extended to Bangkok – the city where I had a mini-reunion with my Engineering college batchmates, and now entrepreneurs, Neeraj Jhunjhunwala and Manoj Burad. 40+ age all guy reunions at Bangkok make a lot of sense. You’ll must do the same too. Both my friends being staunch vegetarians, I got sceptical if an Ethiopian restaurant would suit the diet purity they seek. Hence we decided not to dine together.
Fortunately, there were a couple of Ethiopian restaurants in Nana area, walking distance from where we were staying at Hotel Royal Ivory – a budget place with good location for bachelor trips. The next challenge was since it would be my only Ethiopian meal for some time, how to order optimally – so that I can taste multiple dishes alone but not order in excess to waste food. So I picked the restaurant which had the vegetarian ‘Combination platter’ for one person, priced a cheap 300 Thai Baht = 9 USD = 12 SGD = 550 INR and was rated 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor. The non-vegetarian Combination Platter costs 50% more, is heavier on the stomach and one I will try it next visit.
The Great Ethiopian Restaurant at Soi 3 was a smallish restaurant with friendly staff and patrons, all seemingly from the African part of the world. One of the diners cheeringly took my snaps. The ambience was extremely budget-like and had reasonable occupancy.
The staff also recommended the same dish that I had shortlisted and soon I had a massive plate of Injera (a thicker version of the Indian Dosa, spongy texture, made of teff flour) and over it was a selection of seven curries and salads. The food taste was unique, light on the stomach, light spicy and distinctly touched the taste buds.
The salad was garnished with wine, vinegar and garlic. Three of the tastiest curries were made of ground peas, split lentil and yellow split peas. Each of them cooked with a concoction of garlic, ginger, turmeric and some assorted spices. I must say the serving was adequate for two normal eating people. The food, such heavenly that, next time am in a city, which has good Ethiopian restaurant, I will take my wife, Trisha, to taste.
At this instant am reminded of all our closest, absolute non-fussy (that’s a rare trait!), foody friends – Surajit & Sohini Rakshit, Ardeshir Talati & Ranjini, Ananda Bose – who would all love this cuisine.
Thank you Veeru Paaji.