First Exclusive Ethiopian Restaurant in India - Abyssinian, Alwarpet Chennai

Where: Abyssinian
Address: 40, Maharaja Surya Road, Venus Colony, Alwarpet, Chennai
Cuisine: Ethiopian

As they exuberantly welcome you to the first exclusive Ethiopian restaurant in India, you are awestruck by the intruding ambience and hospitality. It felt like walking into a small adventurous land owned by minions; the furniture and utensils add finesse to their Ethiopian concept. With no clue about Ethiopian food, we left the food choice to the restaurant and they had planned quite an exotic and sumptuous meal.

As we rinsed our hands, the curvy glass jars with Thej made its way. Thej is the most-relished drink of the Ethiopian land, which consists of honey, sugar and water and fermented to remove the bacterial element. The drink tasted close to wine and this wasn’t my favourite glass but yes everyone else enjoyed the drink and it will help you to get through the hefty meal.

The hearty bowl of soup with chicken and butterbeans – Doro Shorbha carried the flavour of onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and rosemary as the menu describes. The juicy chicken pieces, the hard yet well-boiled butterbeans and the light, clear and refreshing broth was flavourful. And for the appetisers Mandazi with Abe, crispy and fluffy dumplings that look and taste-alike to Mangalore bonda with strong flavour of ajwain and garlic was served with spicy coriander and green chilli dip that makes this dish taste good.

And finally the Special Messob made its way, which is one of Abyssinian signature Messob. Their signature messobs serves four people and the sharing plate is accompanied with your choice of soup, salad, two varieties of Ayib, Awaze, Injera, dessert, and Ethiopian coffee.
Our Messob plate had Injera foundation and it was topped with eight different drool-worthy curries. The crepe or dosa-like flatbread that is soft and perfectly complements the curries, the mild sourness in the batter does the magic. There is Rice and Millet Injera but I preferred the Millet in terms of taste.

Injera :) Waiting for its accompanies.
A look at the curries I was immensely excited and couldn’t wait any further to try the same. So breaking down the code words in the name before my take on the taste; Doro means Chicken, Yebeg means Lamb, Beray means Tenderloin and any dish without these words means it is vegetarian.
The eight curries were Doro Wot, Doro Tibs, Doro Tibs Awaze Fir Fir, Yebeg Alicha, Yebeg Bozena Shiro, Misir Beray Wot, Fosolia and Yeduba Wot. And sticking just to the taste, Doro Wot – spicy onion stew seasoned with Ethiopian spice mix and perfectly simmered chicken leg piece was a sensation.

From Top Left: Diced Chicken, Lamb with Chickpeas, Diced Chicken with Injera, Lamb Stew, Mitmita, Fosolia, Ayib, Chicken Leg gravy, Tenderloin, Awaze and Pumpkin :-D
Doro Tibs – the diced chicken cubes tossed with veggies and clarified butter is a dry curry that’s good to go (like a starter) without Injera. And for one final chicken dish Doro Tibs Awaze Fir Fir – when you don’t get enough of the Injera, here you go for a dish made out of the left out Injera from the previous day. The Injera and chicken cubes are tossed with veggies and awaze (which is a spicy sauce). And this is a simple yet delicate dish where the Injera and chicken grasps all the intense flavour of the sauce making this dish lip-smacking.  

The tender and beautifully cooked piece of lamb in both the lamb curries with in-depth flavour of the Ethiopian spices and butter smelled and tasted top-notch. Yebeg Alicha, the lamb cooked in the creamy onion and spices gravy is alright.
Yebeg Bozena Shiro, the shredded lamb pieces cooked to the point where it falls apart at ease; simmered in the chickpea and onion stew the appetizing meat tastes good.

I didn’t taste the tenderloin curry (Misir Beray Wot). Both the vegetarian sides were equally phenomenal in taste; my favourite is Yeduba Wot. The medley of sweet and spicy flavours from the pumpkin and spices simmered together blends well with the flatbread. Fosolia is good but the crunchy strips of caramelised carrot and beans weren’t the ideal match for Injera. With all these they serve Ayib and Awaze. Ayib is Ethiopian cottage cheese which helps to lessen the spice quotient in the food and the spicier version of cottage cheese is called Mitmita is also served along. The cottage cheese variants help to adjust the spice quotient. Also a spiced olive oil and berbere dip called Awaze is served which helps to customise your food.
The messob gets you into food-coma; the Ethiopian flavours felt simple, homely and similar to Indian. The special messob costs Rs.4200 INR (plus tax) for four. 

Special Messob
And moving to the desserts, Nech Azmud Cake is olive oil cake seasoned with ajwain and served with drizzle of honey; the egg smell was overpowering but the cake didn’t have a sight hint of egg but even then the ajwain spiced cake wasn’t my piece of cake. The flaky Ethiopian flatbread Kita with honey was mild on sweetness which was a turn off for me but tasted alright.

And finally the perfect way to end your meal, a cup of Ethiopian Coffee served with spiced butter and popcorn. That’s one deadly combination; as preferred I tried the coffee with a pinch of salt. The bitterness gets high and kicks in your system and helps you to get through the heavy meal.

Breaking Down Points
Ambience: They have put utmost care and huge effort to reciprocate Ethiopian aesthetics in a single room through the furniture and artefacts; and do take some time to notice them because they look great.
Food Variety: Though the cuisine favours non-vegetarian food the most, they have crafted a menu that could excite a vegetarian too. Also you have options to customise your messob based on your palate.
Taste: I felt the place with a hefty tummy and broad smile after gulping hearty and homely meal. The taste seemed similar yet different and delicious.
Quality & Quantity: You can choose your portion based on your appetite as they have messob for four or one as well as tasting plates. The presentation and quality of food is impressive. And a special mention to the service, the staff amaze you with their suave service.  
Price: A meal for two would cost Rs. 2000-2500 INR approx. The food is expensive but it definitely felt worthy; plan you meal wisely so you can cut down a few bucks.

So my Verdict!
Abyssinian takes you on a food ride to experience the flavours of Ethiopia. They are the first exclusive Ethiopian restaurant and they did manage to impress me with the food. Though they are going to be heavy on your wallet, the taste would justify the price you pay.  

While Enjoying the Food, don't forget to check the place out.

P.S. On-the-house invite for tasting session. Remember, no two person's palate can be same. 

Abyssinian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
First Exclusive Ethiopian Restaurant in India - Abyssinian, Alwarpet Chennai First Exclusive Ethiopian Restaurant in India - Abyssinian, Alwarpet Chennai Reviewed by Divya Srinivasan on 17:48 Rating: 5

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