Abyssinian is an Ethiopian restaurant by Savya Rasa, at the same location (next to Starbucks, KP). Even I wondered why specifically ‘Ethiopian Cuisine’? The owners were extremely fascinated by the cuisine (which is similar to South Indian Cuisine, their specialty), the culture and wanted to bring it to Pune for Punekars to experience. And Abyssinian boasts to be the one and only authentic Ethiopian Restaurant in India.
Ethiopia, a country in East Africa, is beautiful and very traditional. Very little influence of modern life except in big cities. They discovered and, even today, are the largest producers of coffee in the world! My kind of place, then! The cuisine is very simple, homely and is similar to South Indian Cuisine. I would say, it is like a combination of South Indian with European (Greek) influences, but still very unique and tasty. Best part is, it is not an acquired taste for us Indians. It’s different, yes, but there is nothing unlikable about it, with no unfamiliar ingredients or flavours. So it is a must try, I would say, for everyone.
The best part about the cuisine is that ‘Community’ is very important, so food is served in a large platter for the whole family or group. The base is Injera, or large fluffy dosas made out of Ragi (But originally ‘Teff’, in Ethiopia). Then various delicious curries and stews are place over them and savoured.
Tej – A local rice wine served in every household in Ethiopia. It is sweet, a bit sour and mild. It’s very pleasant and refreshing. Kind of similar to our ‘Tadi’ or ‘Madi’ but definitely milder and much more palatable. I enjoyed it. It is served in a special round bottom flask, reminding me of school chemistry days!
Adis Manhattan – A delicious cocktail, a cinnamony – fragrant twist to the whiskey cocktail! So good!
Sunny Day By The Beach (Mocktail) – My God! So refreshing. Fragrant with ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime; some sabja seeds adding wonderful bite and texture! One of my most favourite mocktails ever! Perfect for summer afternoons!
Fir Fir – A wonderful spicy salad of fried Injera (ragi dosa) with vegetables, onions and garlic. Like a soft idly fry. There is even a chicken version.
Sambosa – Basically hot crispy samosas. They have a lentil version and a chicken mince version. Mild but tasty, onion and herb filling. Really different and delicious.
Mendassi – A deep fried pakora of wheat and ajwain served with green chutney! Very Indian and very tasty!
MESSOB (Tasting Platter)
They have various sizes according to number of people. They even have a small thali for a single person. This is really what you have to experience here! We had the Tona (the middle one in terms of size) and it’s more than good enough for 5-6 hungry people! Dessert and Ethiopian Coffee are included too.
We were served 12 curries and stews (5 non-veg and 7 veg) and loads of fluffy amazing Injeras (dosas).
My favourites were as follows –
Doro Wot – Chicken leg stew in a wonderful spicy caramelized onion thick gravy and boiled egg. Moderate spice but wonderfully caramelized and flavourful. A must try! It’s the National dish of Ethiopia.
Doro Alicha – Again a chicken leg stew but with onion, turmeric and cumin. An amazing stew with a hint of oniony sweetness. Really mild and delicious!
Doro Tibs – Chicken fried in onions, peppers, garlic, chillies and rosemary with loads of olive oil (that European influence, I was talking about). It was so good, you could say, like a European Chicken Chilly Fry! Mildly spicy, but fragrant with herbs and olive oil!
Yeduba Wot – Pumpkin curry in the spicy onion gravy like Doro Wot! So delicious with the sweet pumpkin and the caramelised spicy onion gravy.
Yebeg Alicha – A lamb meat stew. The lamb was exceptionally tender and juicy and the curry was mildly spicy and thick. Though, not as good as the the chicken or veg version though.
The accompanying salad (similar to a Greek Salad) and the fried Chickpea curry (very similar to a thick Daal Fry) was amazing too. All the curries were a pleasure to scoop up with the injera! Perfect combination.
Fried Dumpling – Crispy and soaked in clarified butter, semolina and flour batter stuffed with something like gajar halwa and deep fried! Then topped with coffee honey syrup!
Ethiopian Baklava – A bit different to the Middle-Eastern Baklava. Crispy thin layers with nuts and coconut topped with honey. Quite a nice dessert!
Coffee is extremely important in the Ethiopian culture. No surprise, considering coffee was first discovered there! Refusing coffee in an Ethiopian household is equal to blasphemy! The way you drink coffee too is very different in Ethiopia. It is brewed in a pot over charcoal and not filtered. Served directly into small cups after letting it settle.
It is first had just like that, without any additions. Then you add a pinch of salt to the second cup, which, like magic, just takes away the bitterness and leaves just the refreshing soothing taste behind. Then you add clarified butter to it! Making it so rich and buttery (similar to bulletproof coffee). It is one hell of an experience and I absolutely loved it. If you’re used to lattes and Starbucks (basically, not “real” coffee) you will not like this, but for a coffee lover like me, it was incredible! Apparently, you have it with fresh crispy pop corn! Added bonus!!
Abyssinian is definitely a must visit restaurant! Ethiopian Cuisine is very interesting and tasty, and definitely not too far from our Indian palates. It simple, homely, soulful and heartwarming. The community platter adds a really cozy and a bonding experience. And the coffee at the end of the meal is the cherry on top.
Plus, the ambiance is just beautiful! Colours of the Ethiopian flag, dominated by yellow, some green and red gives it a very unique feel. The most impressive part is that it is decorated with artifacts, murals, musical instruments and lamp shades actually brought in from Ethiopia!
The Chefs too stayed in Ethiopia for an year and a half with a local historian and Chef to learn all about Ethiopia, their culture and food. So you’re getting a pretty authentic experience, but with the luxurious setting of this restaurant and amazing knowledgeable service!