“They’re using pancakes as spoons,” cries Lisa Simpson. We’re watching an excerpt from The Food Wife (The Simpsons, Season 23, Episode 5) on Yibeltal Tsegaw’s phone. While it’s not our first trip ‘round the Blacktown Main Street block, or our first Ethiopian meal, I’m never-the-less delighted to see the popular show covering this cuisine.
Tsegaw is one half of Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant, who took over the space formerly occupied by Blue Nile African Cuisine & Café, right next door to Abyssina Ethiopian Restaurant, who also make Ethiopian food. I’ve eaten in all of these restaurants, though my visit to Gursha is actually due to Tinsae Yigletu, who catered an Ethiopian dinner in my home under her Dinner with Tinsae business, which regularly runs dinners in the Blue Mountains.
The interior of the modest restaurant has been slightly refined, with the removal of the willow twig fence wall decorations, but the layout is still the same. In the rear you’ll find a little handwashing station that prepares you to wrap your meal in injera - pliable, sour (fermented) pancakes - in order to deliver it to your waiting mouth.
We could learn a thing or two about sharing from the Ethiopians, who are used to meals delivered on a single shared plate. The Gursha Exclusive ($50/2 people) arrives on a round plate blanketed with injera. The centerpiece is doro wot, probably Ethiopia’s most famous dish, which sees boiled eggs and chicken drumsticks coated in a rich gravy made glossy with sweated onions cooked in niter kibbeh (Ethiopian ghee flavoured with cardamom and other spices). Unfurl your bedroll of injera and you’re away - ripping, wrapping and relishing this tasty stew. “Holy casserole-y, that’s good gloop,” Marge Simpson exclaimed, and she’s not wrong.
We each get a pile of tibs – tender beef hunks cooked with rosemary onions and greens – that make for good punctuation between forays into wot (stews). The piles of lightly cooked beef mince are called kitfo, which can be served raw, rare or medium. The cooked version uses more of the spiced clarified butter and mitmita (a powdered bird’s eye chilli spice blend) which we ask for more of, to give it more kick. It’s delivered with a smile and a warning that it’s very hot, along with a milder pepper sauce that has aromatic echoes of wasabi and horseradish.
Rahel Woldearegay – the other half of Gursha – arrives with a basket holding two extra rolls of injera. We use them to scoop up the remaining alicha wot (split pea stew), little mounds of crumbly, cottage cheese (aybe) and siga wot (beef cooked in red pepper sauce). It’s a substantial and satisfying meal that sits surprisingly lightly in your stomach. Just like Haile Delicious Ethiopian Food, the fictitious restaurant Marge visits in Little Ethiopia (a neighbourhood of Springfield) Gursha will delight you if you find yourself stranded in Blacktown (and you should).
Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant
Shop 3, 115 Main Street, Blacktown
Ph: (0451) 007 281