The welcome is very warm and friendly and Saba and her team are personable and they look to really enjoy their work.
After some conversation, a large platter comes out with its own colourful basket lid revealing a lot of injera bread. This is a traditional Ethiopian staple and is eaten with all dishes. Crumpet like but in a wholewheat shade of brown, there's so much but I think that's because all the dishes we order come with it and really for two people we don't need so much of the accompaniment. I'm a little surprised it's not warm and is more room temperature.
Injera is made from the teff grain which is typically grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea as it can thrive in difficult climates. It's gluten free and is meant to be very nutritious. Ground into flour it's predominantly made into injera which is fermented but it can also be used as a gluten free alternative to standard wheat flour.
Injera has a slightly sour taste from the fermentation and a bouncy, pancake like texture. Our accompaniements include a saucy, fiery, spicy chicken drumstick with a hard boiled egg, a milder slightly sweeter and drier diced lamb stew and some veggie options including two lentil based offerins and some garlicky silverbeet.
Out waitress brings out a dishes in little ceramic bowls and then upturns them onto our vast platter of injera ready for us to dig in. I'm not sure of the rules of eating with hands and it's always harder than it looks but we attack using our hunger instincts!
The dishes all taste different demonstrating the use of different spices and cooking methods. All enjoyable and flavoursome it's great to taste the contrasts between the milder and the spicier. Interestingly the injera doesn't soak up the sauces and breakdown to become mush like bread does and remains springy. But it's really filling and we really can't get through all of it. We make good progress with the meats and veggie dishes but there's a lot of injera leftover and it's pretty bloating.
Gluten free cuisine with a few meat dishes and plenty for the veggies, this should be a popular combination for groups and the Northern suburbs crowds. A little bit quirky, a little bit unorthodox and a whole lot of charm; these ingredients should set up Saba for success.