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Teff Restaurant Brings Some of East African Culture to Connecticut

By Elisha Neubauer

At Teff Restaurant, they're bringing a celebration of East African cuisine and culture to Stamford, Connecticut. Focusing on two smaller African countries, Eritrea and Ethiopia, residents of the area are able to experience flavors, styles, and dishes that they otherwise would not have been privy to.

"Although an unknown cuisine in Connecticut, Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine is quite known and popular in major metropolitan cities like Washington, D.C, San Francisco and New York City," says Elsa Mekonen, General Manager and Co-Owner of Teff Restaurant. "Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine is diverse and accommodating to many different palates."

The Mekonen family owns and operates Teff as just that- a family business. Although Teff has only been open for a short period, the family has been operating a restaurant in the same location since 2000. "Previous to this, our family had an American deli in the same location," Mekonen details. "We've served American food for more than a decade to a city that is filled with so many small, locally owned business and restaurants.

As Eritreans/Ethiopians, we noticed that there were no Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurants for almost thirty miles in each direction, forcing people who were interested to drive to New Haven or Manhattan." It was then that they decided to bring their own culture to the area, which was already diverse and health-conscious. "We thought it appropriate to share our culture and expose people to an entirely different cuisine and dining experience (eating with your hands!)."

According to Mekonen, almost half of the cuisine is vegan, focusing on green-based dishes. The other half of the menu options are meat-lovers, with stews and tibs dishes which are sautéed to the guest's spice preferences. "The two main flavor profiles for meat dishes are spicy which is flavored with berbere, our African chili pepper powder as well as a curry that is mild and almost sweet that offers a great contrast," explains Mekonen.

"With that being said, all of the dishes are served on thin, crepe-like bread called injera, which is made from teff (our namesake)." This type of meal is especially fun, as according to Mekonen, you rip up pieces of the injera and scoop up your dish. "It gets rid of the need for utensils," she states.

"At Teff, all of our entrees come with two smaller portions from the vegan menu which allows for a nice balance in the meal," Mekonen tells us. "If you like spicy, we'd recommend dorho wat, which is a spicy chicken stew that epitomizes Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. Siga aletcha, a mild, curried beef dish is perfect for those who are hesitant about spice but are still looking for bursts of flavor."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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