Ethiopian Diamond, Chicago, IL

It is VERY rare that there is a cuisine I’ve never tried before. I am an extremely adventurous eater and I never say no to a new opportunity!

This afternoon, I got to experience Ethiopian cuisine for the first time. I went to Ethiopian Diamond on Broadway in Edgewater with Erica, Kate, and Anna. While it seems like a little hole-in-the-wall place, it is SO worth it to head inside! You must try this place!

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We made sure to go all out. We ordered vegetarian sambusas, two veggie combos (we tried 6 out of the 7 options on the vegetarian list of watt & alicha), and a pot of Ethiopian tea.

Sambusas are very similar to Indian Samosas. They are fried and filled with all kinds of goodies. We tried the three different vegetarian types: Spinach, Potato and Carrot, and Whole Lentils served with a sweet sauce.

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Ethiopian food is eaten entirely with your hands. They serve it on a giant tray covered in these spongy flat breads called “injera” that are almost crepe-like and have a nice tangy taste.

Injera is a very symbolic aspect of the Ethiopian dining experience – eating the bread all from the same plate symbolizes the bonds of loyalty and friendship. It is especially encouraged that those eating from the same plate should express these bonds through “gursha” and feed each other different bites.

Atop the injera, they put different blobs of stewed goodness called “wat” or “alicha” (wat is spicy and alicha is mild) in different spots with a little salad in the center.

All of the foods we ordered were vegetarian. The restaurant states: “all vegetarian dishes are cooked in vegetable oil and contain no eggs, butter, milk, or honey!”

Specifically, we got (starting from the middle right and going counter-clockwise):

Yemisir Watt: Red lentils simmered with onions in a spicy homemade sauce.
Kik Alicha: Split peas cooked in a mild sauce of onion, garlic and ginger.
Quosta: Chopped spinach simmered in a mild sauce of onions and fresh garlic.
Tikel Gomen: Sliced cabbage and carrots cooked in a mild sauce.
Yatkilt Watt: String beans, carrots and potatoes cooked in a mild sauce of onions, garlic, ginger and Ethiopian spices.
Dinich Alicha: Potato cubes and carrots cooked in a mild sauce of onions, garlic, ginger and Ethiopian spices.

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Along with eating the breads that are the base of the platter, everyone also gets their own plate of a giant flatbread to scoop up those delicious tasty blobs.

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Overall, I’d say the first thing I thought of after my first bite was: “YUM! Whoa, mushy texture!” Everything is all stewed and so it’s all pretty gloopy, of course. Gotta be careful not to make too big of a mess. Luckily, Anna had her trust tide to-go stick!

All the different flavors were unique. Some had a nice spiced flavor while others were on the sweeter end.

I think my favorite of all the globs of “wat” and “alicha” would be the Yatkilt Watt. The different vegetables were extremely flavorful and cooked quite nicely, plus this wat had the most diverse textures. But all of us had different favorites!

To wash down our delicious meal, we also ordered a pot of Ethiopian tea which was a spicy chai-like tea. It was perfect to warm us up on this cold and rainy spring day after such a sunny and beautiful week.

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It was so thrilling to get Ethiopian food for the first time! I definitely would go back sooner rather than later, but I am SO stuffed. I highly recommend checking this place out! Next time, I definitely want to try “tibs” – which is usually a meat dish, but Ethiopian Diamond had two kinds that were veggie friendly: one was stewed pumpkin and the other was a stewed tofu dish and both were calling my name!

Here’s my happy face as a result of my first bite:

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Enough said!

Love,

Mimi

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