Ethiopian cuisine often proves a revelation to first timers. I’d go as far to say it’s bizarre that in curry-loving Britain there’s not an injera bread joint on every high street. We’re spoiled in this corner of London though, with a clutch of highly rated Ethiopian restaurants drawing fans of these delicate stews – known as “wot” – to travel in from less fortunate dining landscapes.
The newest arrival on this established scene is Muya, tucked up at the Camden Road end of Brecknock for just over a year, and garnering praise from knowledgeable locals and the food press ever since.
She served our dishes in the traditional way; spooned onto a huge disc of springy injera bread. The contrasting colours and textures are beautiful, and combined with the sharing and tearing of the bread make for a particularly social dining experience, an occasion that’s always a belt-busting feast.
We opted for two of the platters, one of meat dishes (£16.50) and the other vegetarian (£11.95). The cuisine strikes a hugely sensible balance of veg and a little meat, largely since the Ethiopian Orthodox Church requires over 200 meat free fast days a year.
No matter which wot you mop up first, the sourness of the bread mixes with the spices in a way that’s pleasantly overwhelming. The beef key wot was a rich deep red colour, with flavours to match, contrasting the chicken, light and refreshingly sharp, based around the Berbere mix of spices.The selection of lentil dishes proved a kaleidoscope of flavours too, progressing through the creamy kik alicha to the darker shiro, with a wasabi-style kick. Vegetables were the only area that proved a little hit and miss, but these dishes made sense as a more simple foil to the pungent wot sauces.
We washed things down with two national beers, the sweet tasting St George, and the more alcohol-heavy flavours of Castel. It being lunchtime, we didn’t linger for the coffee ceremony, complete with roasting and wafting of beans, but it’s an essential part of a less hurried meal.
Muya’s menu is so laden with unusual-sounding dishes it felt like we’d merely trodden the tourist trail with our platters. Ethiopian eating deserves deeper exploration and promises much in return. The spices might be rare, but you know where to find them.