Ajora Kitchen has been open in Nashville, TN for four years, making and serving generous portions of Ethiopian food that one of the co-owners prepares in the small adjoining kitchen.

By Mary Hance (Tennessean) |

Nashville, Tenn.―The wonderful book I have been reading, “Cutting for Stone”, is set in Ethiopia and so when a friend suggested meeting for lunch at a little Ethiopian restaurant in the Historic Arcade downtown, I was thrilled.

I knew little or nothing about Ethiopian food, but was happy to try it. And one meal in from the Ajora Kitchen and I’m a serious fan.

My meal was delicious, beautifully served on an oval plate by the restaurant owner Zeni Meshesha, and healthy, I think.

I mean, it seemed healthy since I chose “chicken tibs” (chunks of juicy chicken in a wonderful spicy red sauce), Gomen (collard greens) and red lentils served over rice.

And tap water (my usual drink of choice) of course.

My plate was full of wonderful and interesting food and my tab was $8.76, including tax.

My vegetarian lunch mate went for the four vegetable plate that included Tikle Gomen (cabbage, potatoes and onion) and the Key Sir (diced beets cooked with onion, garlic and ginger) along with lentils, served over an ample piece of the spongy Injera (bread) and her tab came to right at ten dollars because she ordered a bottled water before I could stop her.

I ate my lunch with a fork, not realizing until later that most traditional Ethiopian food is eaten with your hands, tearing off pieces of the injera, and using it to grab the food and put it in your mouth.

The friendly Ajora Kitchen owners Zeni and Girma Meshesha have been open in the Arcade (34 Arcade Nashville, TN) for four years, making and serving generous portions of their native country’s food that Zeni prepares in the small adjoining kitchen, using recipes that were her mother’s and grandmother’s Ethiopian staples.

She said an Ethiopian red pepper is one of the most common spices, but other spices include garlic, ginger, jalapenos and turmeric.

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