Chef Ilona Daniel: Bringing the Cuisine of Ethiopia to P.E.I., Canada

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“My trip to Ethiopia was an unexpected blessing that has changed my life, as all of my travels do,” Chef Ilona Daniel of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

By Stephen Brun (The Guardian) |

It has been about a month and half since I’ve returned from Africa, and I’m still finding new lessons and perspectives from my brief, yet transformative trip.

I was invited by Philip Baker, Canadian ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti, to be the hosting chef for the Canada 150 celebrations at the Canadian embassy in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.


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Creating a menu utilizing both Canadian and Ethiopian ingredients was no small feat. As a chef, two skills one must continually hone are the ability to be adaptable and a sense of imagination. The concept of Canadian cuisine is one I often reflect upon, as it can be very difficult to clearly define. We are a nation which celebrates diversity in culture, and cuisine is a cornerstone of cultural identity. We have roots and traditions that range from our First Nations to the countless waves of immigrants from all corners of the earth. I wanted to express my love for as much of our cultural tapestry as possible, while keeping it simple, straightforward and approachable.

I knew lobster was a key ingredient; what better way to champion and celebrate Prince Edward Island? It was a surreal moment in my career, preparing lobster rolls in Africa, and is still something I can hardly believe I had the opportunity to do. The nearly 1,000 guests of the ambassador loved our lobster, I must joyfully share.

Another important, and in many ways the most treasured part of my trip, was the request to work with local women to prepare this meal. Part of the diplomatic mission for Canada in Ethiopia is to help raise the status of women and children. I shared my knowledge, skills and stories with female cooks and expressed the wisdom I have learned along the way, which has allowed me to develop a strong personal brand. Ultimately, I feel I am the one who learned the most. Life is truly a wonder when viewed through the lens of simplicity, and authenticity. I enjoyed cooking and sharing stories with my kitchen crew. I will never forget it.

Continue reading this story at The Guardian
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Messob Platter at Abyssinian in Chennai, India

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Called a messob platter, it has a sitting down at a traditional low table, with all eating from the same large steel platter, at Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant in Alwarpet, central Chennai, India.

By Raul Dias (The Hindu) |

I’ve always believed that Chennai is a great food city for the experimental diner and this fact has been proven to me time and again. And that super muggy April afternoon was no different, as I sat down to a traditional Ethiopian meal at Abyssinian, the eight-month-old Ethiopian cuisine restaurant in Alwarpet.

Having eaten Ethiopian food—in Liverpool, the U.K., of all places during my student days there—I had a fair understanding of what was in store for me and my rather clueless friends. Called a messob platter, the main meal is meant for four people. And this is had sitting down at a traditional low table, with all eating from the same large steel platter.


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Onto this, a soft, spongy neer dosa meets appam-like bread called injera (which can be made from an indigenous Ethiopian grass called teff, rice and in our case ragi or finger millet) is first placed as a lining (and more rolls on the side) onto which each diner gets their own daub of yummy dishes.

And thus began a procession of delectable offerings like yebeg bozena shiro, a delicious mutton and chickpea powder-based dish, slow-cooked with Ethiopia’s popular—and spicy—red berbere sauce. Misir wot, a divine (and beautifully colored) combination of split red lentils simmered in spicy berbere sauce was next. The simple, yet flavorful fasolia followed, which is a dish of string beans, sautéed with carrots and caramelized onions.

Continue reading this story at The Hindu
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