…Well how about that?? (RIP Phife)
During my recent visit to DC I spent some time on U Street, and inevitably the neighborhood full of Ethiopian businesses made me think of my Chicken Suqaar moment in Portland, OR. NE Portland has some of the best East African food I’ve had. This of course being neck and neck with U Street & Adams Morgan in DC, Fairfax in LA, and various pockets of Charlotte and Minneapolis, but still.. I visited a restaurant on Ethiopian Row on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd in Portland and was beyond pleased. The food smelled authentic, the English was minimal, and I felt like at that moment I had arrived in international culinary bliss. The food was excellent and felt at home with the family-run and inviting vibe. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of this restaurant, nor do they have a website unfortunately. However I can tell you that whoever took over Safari’s or Horn of Africa on MLK was responsible for this amazing Somali style Chicken Suqaar dish.
My recollection of this restaurant being where Safari’s used to be, will serve as a point of reference when I return, and will help to guide you if you’re ever in Portland in search of authentic East African food..
I was able to find a recipe with the closest ingredients to what was used at the anonymous restaurant on Ryan and Brianna’s Bon Appetit site. I will forewarn you though, this is not a boil the rice while you saute the chicken with your favorite two seasonings 15 min moment. Granted once you get the hang of it, I’m sure it won’t seem as rigorous. Let’s just say this dish is good for a ‘I refuse to leave the house’ weekend. Well that is if you actually have all of these ingredients in stock. If you do, that’s actually pretty impressive.. I know for a fact I don’t. The spice rack from Target that I acquired years ago hardly counts. Fresh spices are key. As of matter of fact I still have Marcus Samuelsson who knows a thing or two about Ethiopian cooking, to thank for the inspiration behind stepping up my spice game.
So anyway, here it is… The recipe for this wonderful Somalian dish.
The best analogy I have for this simple cooking trick is like shopping in your own closet. The same way you have those deceptive “I have nothing to wear” moments, you have those “there is nothing to eat in the fridge” moments. The simple solution is to play around with the right combination of spices to dress up those meats that have been pushed into the back of your freezer for nearly six months. You know, the traditional cuts of meats that got kicked to the curb due to the latest stuffed chicken breast creation from Whole Foods or the brie stuffed salmon rolls from Gristedes that you simply couldn’t resist. Well it is basically the same concept as dressing up those slightly outdated pieces in your closet with the right combination of accessories and styling for a brand new look. Check out more on this topic and get more specifics below from one of Marcus Samuelsson‘s contributers.
So in case you’re a NYC local and haven’t heard, or are a part of that NYC elite that can easily toss $250 for a street festival in Brooklyn that any other weekend would’ve easily been $10, get your black, gold or silver credit cards out because there are still tickets left to the Great Googa Mooga’s “Extra Mooga” food festival on Sunday. Thanks to Marcus Samuelsson’s blog, I know Brooklyn will be housing the all inclusive food and drink lover’s wonderland at Prospect Park this weekend. Although it’s said that general admission to the Great Googa Mooga is sold out or that registration has closed rather, you still can partake in the festivities that include a lot of food, a lot of drink, and don’t quote me, but I believe the legendary Roots headlining also. So if it sounds like your cup of chai tea, just go to the site and check it out for yourself. Oh and please do tell me how it was come Sunday. I have a strange feeling I won’t be making this one. Wouldn’t mind meeting Bourdain though..