Tag Archives: spice

Where to Buy Injera to Eat at Home

Love injera but don’t dine out at Atlanta’s Ethiopian restaurants as often as you’d like?  Enjoy this spongy and tangy bread at home!

Freshly made injera is available to buy at Merkato Mart on Buford Highway.  It’s a small store that’s easy to miss, but once inside you’ll feel like you hit the jackpot with its selection of locally made injera.

Even if you’ve never had Ethiopian food, injera is well worth a taste.  Injera is a large, spongy flatbread that looks like a French crepe and tastes like sourdough.  It’s made from teff, a gluten-free grain that is high in calcium, iron and protein.

In Ethiopian cuisine the injera is both the plate and the utensils; dishes like doro wat and gomen besega are placed on top of the injera and picked up using a torn off piece of the bread.  One side of the injera is smooth while other is porous, ideal for soaking up sauces.

Though it may look simple, injera is difficult for most home cooks to make (trust me, I’ve tried and failed several times).  That’s why you’re better off leaving it to the experts who have family traditions of making the bread.

About half a dozen kinds of injera are available to buy at Merkato Mart, all made in the Atlanta and Decatur area.  The injeras vary in taste, color (grey to brown), and texture (small to large pores).  Each bag costs $4 and contains eight to ten large pancakes.  Buy two or more to figure out which style you like best.  The injera keeps for 3 to 4 days on the counter.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy injera at home.  It’s great for sandwiches as substitute for wraps and can accompany stews or soups.  One taste of the injera and you’ll want to serve it with everything.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Merkato Mart sells all the necessary spices to make Ethiopian food at home.  Though after my experiences making injera, I’ll keep enjoying these richly flavored dishes at Ethiopian restaurants.

Merkato Market is located at 3300 Buford Highway Northeast in Atlanta.
(404) 320-9777

Related: A Family Favorite – Ethiopian Food

Snapshots from the Great Chili Cook-Off

Saturday’s 31st annual Great Miller Light Chili Cook-Off at Stone Mountain was a celebration of all things spicy and savory as hundreds of teams cooked up their best chili, Brunswick stew or cornbread.

Amateur chefs served up samples of their recipes along a tasting trail that wandered through the trees.  From sweet to spicy, beef to alligator, there was a chili (or several) for everyone.

Around 300 teams competed for top prize in each of the three food categories.

First Place for Chili: Howard Crew Chili & Stew, Don & Jen Howard

First Place for Brunswick Stew: Dos Gringos, Bob Sims

First Place for Cornbread: Hammerhead Chili, Amy Phillips

For more information on the Great Miller Light Chili Cook-Off and to see a full list of winners visit www.theatlantachilicookoff.com.

Here are snapshots from the chili cook-off.  click photos to enlarge

Deering Seafood Festival

If there’s a food festival going on, I’m there!

Deering Seafood FestivalYesterday I had the chance to check out the 5th Annual Deering Seafood Festival on the Bay at the Deering Estate at Cutler.  It was my first time at both the seafood festival and the Deering Estate and I had a great time.

Grey skies and occasional drops of rain didn’t frighten away the crowds.  The appropriately named Seafood Alley was packed with people lining up to try the fresh offerings from local restaurants and catering companies.

crawfishGolden Rule Seafood‘s raw bar was my first stop.  Their oysters were some of the biggest I’ve seen and had a great creamy and meaty taste.  I normally eat raw oysters with cocktail or hot sauce but these were so good I ate them on their own.  I really wish I had saved room for Golden Rule Seafood’s cajun crawfish which looked and smelled delicious.

Next I tried a pair of dishes from Black Point Ocean Grill.  Their jambalaya was rich and well spiced, with large pieces of shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage.  Their grilled shrimp gazpacho was light and refreshing with a great kick to it — perfect for the hot and muggy afternoon.  Black Point Ocean Grill’s location in Homestead is a bit of a drive for me but after yesterday’s tasting I’ll be making a special trip.

I’m not sure if alligator actually qualifies as seafood but I knew I couldn’t leave the festival without trying some.  I’ve only had alligator fried beyond recognition so I was excited to try the smoked gator kabobs from the Les Seafood Express.  The gator meat was moist and tender, with a slightly more chewy texture than chicken.  The smoky taste suited the alligator meat really well.

garlic crabsMy eyes are always bigger than my stomach and I wish I could have eaten much more — especially the surf and turf nachos, lobster sliders and frog legs.  I should have gotten the seafood paella from Paellas R Us to go, I don’t know what I was thinking by passing that up!

The Bahamian Junkanoo enhanced the seafood celebration with an energetic and entertaining performance.  You couldn’t miss the brass band marching around in their bright neon uniforms.

I left the festival happy and very full — a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I’ll definitely be back next year!

Istanbul: Day 1

The Sights, Sounds and Tastes Along the Bosphorus

We arrived in Istanbul 5 hours later than scheduled after an unplanned stop in Paris so we hit the ground running. Our first stop was the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. It’s a long hallway of bright colors and even brighter personalities peddling their hundreds of varieties of Turkish delight.

Stalls were filled with red, brown and yellow spices, all sorts of nuts, dates, and snack foods that combined fruits and nuts.  There were giant colored stumps with some sort of jellied fruit with pistachios inside that vendors would cut slices from – almost like a dessert gyro.  Another type of candy was a long, cylindrical looking thing with a solid fruit jelly made from raisins surrounding a center of pistachios.  I’m not a big fruit-and-nuts-as-dessert fan, plus the not so appetizing dark brown color – needless to say I held off on buying any of this candy.

Next stop: the Grand Bazaar.  The name says it all.  Anything you wanted you could find there – jewelry, hookahs, clothing, pashmina scarves, decorative bowls, musical instruments, Turkish tea sets, even knockoff bags and wallets like you’d find on Canal Street in New York City.  There are so many rows of stalls, each row has a street name – in case you get lost.  If you want to buy something, you’re expected to haggle.  Apparently whatever original price they tell you, you’re supposed to end with it costing about half that.  I don’t know if it was the jet lag or the bright colors on the hand painted bowls that were distracting me, but it turns out I’m not so good at haggling!

We took a break from shopping and popped into Fes Café for some coffee. I figured when in Turkey . . . so I had to get Turkish coffee. It looks unassuming in an espresso-style cup, but the taste is enough to wake even the most tired person up. It’s full bodied and strong with such a unique taste that you wouldn’t want to ruin it with sugar or lemon (though I’m sure non-coffee fans might feel otherwise!). But the real fun is when you get towards the bottom of the cup. After all the liquid’s gone there’s a thick layer of sludge with a concentrated coffee taste. Any coffee you have to chew to finish is good in my book!

After the two bazaars we checked in to the hotel and got ready for dinner.  Being a Saturday night, we had to check out Istanbul’s nightlife.  We began by taking a boat up the Bosphorus.  We zigzagged between the Asian side and the European side, enjoying the sounds of the calls to prayer coming from the many mosques that pierced the skyline with their minarets.

As the sun set, we arrived by water at Reina, a restaurant-club compound.  The club itself was open air, facing the Bosphorus, and had two stories of restaurants surrounding it in a U-shape.  We had dinner at Park Samdan, a restaurant that put an upscale touch on traditional Turkish dishes.  My main course was a smoky, spiced beef in a watered down, unpasteurized-tasting yogurt.  Though it may not have been the most visually-appealing dish, the tangy-ness of the yogurt paired really well with all the spices in the beef.

After dinner we walked downstairs to Reina.  If you ever visit Istanbul, or if you’re into nightclubs, you cannot miss this club.  After midnight the club was packed with people dancing and singing along to dance music I had never heard, in languages I couldn’t pick out.  We sipped champagne while looking at the Asian side of Istanbul lit up across the Bosphorus, and underneath a bridge that was illuminated with constantly changing colored lights that danced up and down the cables.  We left around 2 am, not particularly looking forward to our 9 am wakeup call.