A few weeks ago we met up with a friend for dinner at Queen of Sheba in the Timberlyne Plaza in Chapel Hill. We haven’t had Ethiopian food since moving to NC so we were looking forward to it. The space is small and simple but warm with bright orange/red walls. There are several small traditional woven basket tables which seat 2-3 people as well as conventional tables. The food is served in large communally and is meant to be shared by all. It was quite when we arrived at 7:30pm on a Friday night. The waitress/hostess was extremely friendly and helpful.
We were hungry when we arrived so we ordered the Buticha which is a chickpea dip mixed with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. The menu said “a touch” of garlic so we were expecting something a kin to hummus which is primarily chickpea. However, the garlic was potent! We were completely caught off guard. Once you get past the initial shock of the garlic the dip was quite tasty. It is eaten with injera bread which is a traditional yeast risen flatbread made from the grass teff. It is used as a utensil for all the dishes served and is refilled constantly throughout the meal. The injera has a slightly nutty flavor and was light and airy.
For dinner we tried the three dishes. All were served with two side dishes and communally on the injera. We tried the Minchetabesh which is ground beef that is pan-fried with spices then simmered in the Ethiopian berbere sauce. This was delicious! The beef was spicy and slightly smoky from the berbere (which is a spice mixture of chili peppers, ginger, garlic, dried basil, pepper and fenugreek). We also tried the Yebeg Watt which is cubed lamb simmered with onion, berbere, purified butter, ginger, garlic and spices. The lamb was perfectly tender and melted in your mouth. It too was spicy though not as spicy as the beef. The last dish we had was the Yemitten Shiro Watt which is pea flour simmered in a mild sauce of onion, herbs, garlic and ginger. I had not tried a dish like this before and it might have been my favorite of the evening! It is difficult to describe. Since it is made of pea flour it is smooth almost dip like in consistency; I think onions and herbs were blended and everything was cooked together. The flavor was delicate yet savory with a slight nuttiness. This provided a nice balance to the spicy meat dishes. The meal also came with a cooked cabbage dish, a tomato salad, and a yellow lentil dish as sides. With the continued refilling of injera, it was quite a lot of food! They source all of their meat products from local farmers and use hormone and antibiotic free products which is an added bonus.
Ethiopian food is a real treat for the taste buds. I am glad to to have found a great option here in the Triangle!
Queen of Sheba
1129 Weaver Dairy Rd
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514