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Aug 20, 2013 08:53 PM

Kosher Ethiopian restaurant in NYC/NJ area?

Is anyone aware of a Kosher Ethiopian restaurant in the NYC/NJ area? My non-Jewish friends rave about Ethiopian food and I would love to try some.

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  1. Don't think there is such an animal, alas.

    3 Replies
    1. re: queenscook

      :( I was afraid that was going to be the answer.

      1. re: mullertwin

        we were in tel aviv and ate at an authentic kosher eithiopian restaurant called habash. it is located on 8 HaNegev street. It was a meat restaurant and quite good

        the one in jerusalem is closed-the owners had a difference of opinion on keeping kosher.

        no kosher eithiopian in ny.

        1. re: koshergourmetmart

          photos from our Eithiopian meal along with the hostess

    2. but then again, very little (if anything) could be considered full-on treyf (I know I know, not the same thing as certified K)

      it is sort of odd that after that group of long separated Ethiopian Jews were reunited to Israel about 20 years ago one hasn't shown up. I mean doesn't everyone and everything make it to NYC sooner or later?

      12 Replies
      1. re: hill food

        Even within Israel, compared to how many Ethiopian restaurants there are - not a high percentage of them are certified. In Jerusalem, I'm not sure if there even is a kosher Ethiopian restaurant anymore. So whether or not they've made it to NYC, even in Israel, certification hasn't really become a "thing".

        1. re: hill food

          Traditionally, some Ethiopian dishes use neter kiba, a seasoned butter, to flavor meat. While they don't use many inherently non-kosher foodstuffs, the meat and milk thing is something to watch out for.

          1. re: rockycat

            oh that's an important point I hadn't recalled, I forgot they do cook with a lot of butter, even the little beef they do use.

            1. re: hill food

              From the Jewish Ethiopian community I wonder how use of neter kiba and kashrut in general are applied. In Israel, Ethiopian restaurants largely don't get certification, but I don't know if that is because the recipes themselves aren't kosher or it's a combination of one more government agency to avoid and - even in Israel - to be able to make the food more cheaply.

              1. re: cresyd

                beats me, but an interesting question.

                1. re: cresyd

                  I think it's mostly wanting to be open on Shabbat.

                  1. re: zsero

                    Speaking of the ones I'm familiar with in Jerusalem, a lot are open on Shabbat - but that's not the case with all of them.

                    In Jerusalem in particular, working with the rabbinute to get certification - particularly in the Machene Yehuda area - is something quite involved. To simplify the rabbinute's work load, restaurants are required to buy vegetables from a very narrow list of vendors - even if their previous vendors provided certified kosher products. For those who do care about certification, when eating at establishments in the shuk be sure to check individual restaurants because over the past year or two a number of restaurants have dropped their certification because of the rabbinute demands. There is a growing movement across Jerusalem of about 12 or so restaurants that are trying to put together their own informal "certification" - but as all official certification can only come from the government - it's not offical.

                    Basically it's a decision that I don't think is necessarily summed up so quickly.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      Yes, the issue of vegetables is complicated in Israel; not only are insects much more of a problem than they are in America, because of the climate, but there are all the additional restrictions that apply only in Israel (teruma, maaser, orlah, shmita, etc.), so that Israel is the only country where you need a hechsher on produce.

                      (Terumah and maaser can be fixed, if you care and know how, but orlah and shemita cannot. When I was there for Purim, and gave someone shalach manot, I started telling them that the pastry was from Angels, etc., and they said never mind about any of that, we trust you on the other things, but where did you get the avocado? Since I don't live there, they couldn't be sure I'd remembered that fruit needs a hechsher. I assured them that the greengrocer was certified by the Badatz.)

                      And checking for insects is one thing on the scale of an individual household, but quite another on the scale of a restaurant. So it's understandable that the rabbanut would prefer that they buy only from trusted vendors; paying for an extra mashgiach to check the untrusted stuff will be far more expensive.

                      1. re: zsero

                        A friend of mine used to joke that here in the States, when you find yourself at some sort of party or the home of someone who doesn't keep kosher, you can always have a piece of fruit, but that in Israel, the baked goods are generally safe (especially years ago when Angels was the most popular supplier), while you had to worry about whether the fruit was OK to eat!

                        1. re: zsero

                          I don't keep kosher - so admittedly I have far less of a "horse" in this race. But from what I've read and heard, the issue occurred when neighborhoods got cut up. From how I understood it, it meant that the mashgiach that checked the restaurant then had to check with the mashgiach that checked with the vendor. It wasn't that vendors weren't certified - they were just being certified by someone else.

                          When the change came down, restaurants felt like they were being forced to only shop from a few vendors and leave their long standing relationships (with certified vendors). Either way, it's been interesting to follow.

                    2. re: cresyd

                      the vegetarian dishes can be made either dairy or pareve and vegan. Such a rich assortment of food.

                      1. re: noya

                        The ability of the dishes to be cooked parve or is just one of the issues with gaining a kashrut certificate in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem it ends up being a very involved relationship with a State office that some establishments choose to forgo - even though it typically means a loss in revenue.

              2. Wish I had a local restaurant that would change ethnicity every few months.

                Serious quesiton for mavens of the restaurant business: Could a restaurant under good supervision open with an Ethiopian menu. Announcing that after six months the menu would become Thai, then, in another six months, Mexican, then Moroccon, then...

                The city seems to be full of cooks who can handle these cuisines. Could it work?

                5 Replies
                1. re: AdinaA

                  I'd rather have a restaurant focus on one cuisine and do it well. Unless they want to rotate through guest chefs every 6 months I can't imagine one chef being able to handle all those cuisines and doing them well. Especially with kosher adaptations thrown into the mix.

                  1. re: AdinaA

                    I have no restaurant experience, but I would think both pantry and staff training would pose some problems. Those cuisines have very different flavor profiles and would require all kinds of different seasonings, herbs, veggies, etc. For the perishables, that could create inventory challenges.

                    In terms of training, it's hard enough to find staff who knows what they're doing in the first place. But then to have to train them in explaining an ever-changing menu to kosher diners who may not be familiar with the dishes? Oy.

                    Neat idea, though.

                    1. re: AdinaA

                      That sounds kind of like Grant Achatz's (nonkosher) Chicago restaurant, Next, which does an entirely new themed tasting menu every few months, I think. (Think 'Paris 1906,' then 'Kyoto,' then 'The Hunt,' then 'Childhood.' I have these out of order, but they're real menus that they've done there.) It seems to be a Herculean effort for everybody involved, though, and to require an insanely creative team at the top.

                      1. re: GilaB

                        I was assuming that they could hire cooks who had worked in these cuisines on a temporary basis, these types of ethnic restaurants are common, after all, it's just kosher versions that are rare. They wouldn't have to invent the wheel, like Grant Achatz. And the dining-out crowd in Manhattan wouldn't need much educating.

                        But it sounds lit it would be tougher than I imagined. Businesses you know nothing about often do seem like they would be so easy to run.

                        1. re: AdinaA

                          I would guess there must be some ethiopian vegetarian places in the metro area that could get a hechscher a la the curry hill places. Ethiopians tend to place a lot of respect into vegetarianism.

                    2. I'm so curious to know what Ethiopian food is! Does anyone know of a website or blog with accessible recipes?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: DevorahL

                        The web is full of recipes. Lots of vegan and meat stews, classic spice mixes. the fun part is scooping up the stew with the injera, a yeast flat bread more like an American pancake than it is like pita. It's a nuisance to make. Chef Moshe at Pardes has been serving injera this summer, as a base for wonderful food - but not as a base for traditional Ethiopian stews.

                        What's really hard is knowing what it is supposed to taste like. I mean, a recipe for an Ethnic spice blends like Ethiopian berbere will only get you so far.

                        Wish there was a kosher Ethiopian place, because without one I have no idea what it is really supposed to taste like.

                        1. re: AdinaA

                          Yes, but that's true for other cuisines as well, if you keep kosher. Thai comes to mind.

                          1. re: AdinaA

                            A number of years ago we had the owner of a local Ethiopian restaurant cook at our shul as part of a program on Ethiopian Jewry. She's not Jewish and the shul provided all her requested ingredients, but we ended up with a very authentic selection of dishes. She held a small class and distributed recipes, too.

                            1. re: AdinaA

                              when you are in israel go to the place in tel aviv-just go during lunch. at night it looked somewhat like a seedy area

                            2. re: DevorahL

                              You could arrange a kosher cooking class with a chef from an Ethiopian restaurant. Our local restaurant in NJ does this.

                            3. Yum. We adopted two of our kids from Ethiopia, and as soon as pesach was over (imagine eating nothing but tuna, egg, matzo, and veggies) I got cooking lessons from the staff. Beans and peas never tasted so good! I brought my own pan and knife and kashered the stove. They were really amused by us! I make my own injera, and it's no more trouble than making sourdough bread. Bob's Red Mill makes kosher teff flour. Oh, yum. Some of my favorite food, and it's really cheap to make.

                              5 Replies
                                  1. re: alpidarkomama

                                    Seems so easy. One wonders why Ethiopian restaurants almost always mix their teff with wheat? Is it to appeal to an American palette (less sour) and/or save on costs?

                                    1. re: dndicicco

                                      Adding wheat flour makes the injera more amenable to being flipped. I've had a very hard time making 100% teff injera, even though I love the taste! I suspect it would be easier with a pan that can get hotter than it does on my stove.