Okra: A journey to Ethiopia

You probably noticed that I like to eat and I, definitely, love to discover different kind of tastes and cuisines. Last night I had the chance to experience one aspect of african dishes and foods. There are plenty different styles and Ethiopia and Eritrea are just one part of the wide range of the culinary world of Africa. My girls and I went to the Okra, an restaurant in the heart of Flingern, where you could enjoy traditional and authentic ethiopian food. Actually, I once visited this place a couple of years ago but as this is such long time I barely remember it, so I think is accaptable when I say it is a new experience for me.

Not very eye-catching from the outside, but as soon as you enter the Okra you will feel  like you step in to a totally different world. At first sight the location looks very small as you count a handfull of tables only. But you´ll be surprised when the staff lead you to the back of the restaurant. One more room and more tables, well, no worries about not getting any seats? …you´d be wrong if you think you don´t need to book a table beforehand. You might be lucky to find a free seat but, especially, for a bigger group… MAKE your reservation!!

Ethiopian food is one of the most exciting cuisine I´ve ever tried (so far). It´s extremely unique and full of different flavours. Even the way the dishes are served is extraordinary. Usually, Ethiopian food is eaten with friends and family. It´s served on a communal platter so you can share it with each other. Very communicating and interactive. If you hesitate to share your food and your platter with someone else this definitely won´t be your place.

okra; Dusseldorf; beginner plate; injera

The best way to begin with, especially when you don´t have any clue what is what and how it tastes, is to order a plate with samples of a couple of different dishes. This plater is avaiable with meat and in a vegetarian version for one or more people. We tried both, everything served on ONE big platter, nothing else… It came with injera, which is a  tradional flatbread with a unique, soft and spongy texture. It is made out of teff flour and tastes lightly sour. The spongy character allows the injera to soak up all the fantastic flavours of the meals. You have to know that you usually don´t get any kind of silverware… no fork, no knife, anything!! You use your hands and fingers only. Tearing off a bite sized piece of injera and use it to pick up a piece of whatever you wanna try from the platter. It was such an incredible experience to eat like that.

The food itself was well flavoured with various spices and herbs, sometimes a bit spicy, but very well seasoned overall.

Although, in the beginning all of us thought that the dishes didn´t look like a lot and we were afraid that it wouldn´t be enough for us, in the end we were full and happy.

Corresponding to the food I also tried the Ethiopian national beer Tej. An Ehtiopian mead or honey wine. Normally homemade and flavoured with an indigenous herb much like hops. It was served in a rounded vase-shaped bottle called a berele, which give the whole thing a very interesting look. The Tej tasted sweet with a trace of alcohol and reminded me of German “Federweißer”.

Okra is an absolutely unique experience and I often heard people talking about it and recommend it to others. Also me and my girls had spoken about it several times and finally we made it. Well, from my point of view I totally recommend it and hopefully I won´t wait another five years so to eat there again. Or perhaps there will be an opportunity to try one of the other Ethiopian restaurants like Lucy Abyssinia or Yatana.

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