Rome’s Best Ethiopian Restaurant and Its Famous Chicken Stew — Dining on a Dime


(motorcycle engine running) – Hello everyone. Thanks Fabio. I appreciate it.
(laughs) Well, we’re here at Via Prenestina in the Pigneto neighborhood of Rome, I’m heading to an Ethiopian
restaurant and cultural center which is called Mesob. We’re gonna talk to the chefs. We’re gonna talk about the history. And then we’re gonna settle down and have some of this delicious food. We’re gonna have some lentils. We’re gonna have some doro wat. And we’re gonna have this
injera, which is the signature spongy sour bread that
accompanies all Ethiopian food. I recently visited Ethiopia, really enjoyed it, but I was really taken by the really strong sense
of national identity. They were occupied during
Mussolini’s reign in Italy, but they were never fully colonized, and they were able to fight that off. Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia, was just a sort of God-like national hero. The proud food traditions,
and the proud traditions of Ethiopia, I think, they
really go hand in hand. And in this case, its very much
accessible egalitarian food, which is not that different from a lot of quintessential Roman food. Is there much of an
Ethiopian community in Rome? Are there a lot of Ethiopians?
– Yes, yes, many. The influence of Italian
is very strong in Ethiopia. – In the time of Mussolini,
the Italians were there, so we shared many things. – Regarding colonization, we
are not colonized with Italian. But for five years Ethiopia
was colonized by Italians. For five (only) years. But there was an emperor, Haile Selassie, has fought very (hard) not to get Ethiopia colonized in 1960, 50. There are many restaurants
and hotels, and Italians in Ethiopia living:
Trattoria, El Rico restaurant. For us it is very easy
to know about Italy, to come to Italy. – [Lucas] When did you
begin the restaurant? – My sister is the one
who opened the restaurant. She is not here for the last six months. She’s in Ethiopia. – Okay, and what was
the reason to start it? – Just to make a cultural
association, to get together, to gather Ethiopians, it’s our aim. – Are there other
activities that happen here? – Every year we do a coffee ceremony. – Oh you do?
– Yes. – Oh that’s nice. I’ve, coffee in Ethiopia
is the best I’ve ever had. The very important part of the
Ethiopian meal is the injera. Is that right?
– The injera, yes, exactly. – And tell me a little bit about
what that is, what is that? – Injera is done, usually with a crops called teff. – Teff?
– Yes. So, it’s unique. Everybody can eat injera. A small boy can eat injera. All women can eat injera. All men, everybody can eat injera. As a breakfast, also we can use it. – But the process is
not easy to make injera because it takes time
for the fermentation. Sometimes it takes three
days and four days, and sometimes in eight days as well. – So there is fermentation
involved in making the injera. And that’s why it tastes
a little bit sour? – Yes, sour, yes. So if you can pull out a base,
mostly in vegetarian food, and the vegetarian food consists
of vegetables and legume and we have many kind
of dishes in Ethiopia. (light upbeat music) – The most essential part of the Ethiopian experience is the injera. It’s got this like
spongy sour consistency. I’m just gonna take some off. You can see it has these little bubbles from where it ferments. It really absorbs a lot of the flavor in the different dishes here that are set. The way Ethiopians eat, they
just eat with their hands, so I’m gonna eat with my hands too, because I love to eat with my hands. When we called out Nati to ask her, “What is the name of this dish?” She’s like, “It’s cabbage,
what’s wrong with you?” So this is cabbage, and this comes with potatoes, peppers, carrots, we have some green beans
cooked in olive oil. It just has a nice softness. And then this yellow
coloring comes from turmeric. It’s also gonna give it some flavor. I would describe it as a mild curry. It’s not gonna have that
overwhelming cumin-y taste that happens with a lot of curry. So much of Ethiopian food is vegetarian, but also meat is eaten,
so we have some beef here and we also have some chicken which is in this very special dish called doro wat, and that
is going to be a stew that takes half a day
to make, and is flavored with seven spices:
cardamom, cumin, fenugreek, and some other spices, and then some stewed
chicken, hard boiled eggs. It’s like a bitter, earthy
and yet slightly sweet, slightly fruity mixture. A lot of these spices are musty, nutty, mushroomy, like of the earth. I really like it. Like a lot of the Roman
dishes that we’ve had, the cacio e pepe, the carbonara, which are the quintessential Roman dishes that are very affordable. This is the kind of food that
really everyone in Ethiopia is going to be eating, the
very rich and the very poor are gonna sit down to a
plate of lentils and injera. And that’s the tie that
binds the Ethiopian people. I really hope you enjoyed this
episode of Dining on a Dime from Mesob, the restaurant
and cultural center in the Pigneto neighborhood of Rome. The food is great. We got to ride a scooter with Fabio, my new friend. Nothing could ruin the day, even Vesta being culturally insensitive. (woman laughs)
So cheers! That’s it, this blog is over.
(woman laughs)

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