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African food is tasty and fun; here are some places to try in Seattle

With exciting spices, healthy legumes and communal eating traditions, African cuisine is a fun night-out meal for families



Angel tears into some injera, an Ethiopian bread, at Jebena Cafe in Seattle’s Pinehurst neighborhood.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Seattle’s melting-pot culture has given its cuisine scene an international flair where diners can try food from the world over, including an expanding menu from various regions of Africa. With exciting spices, healthy legumes and communal eating traditions, African cuisine is a fun night-out meal for families.

At Pinehurst’s Jebena Cafe, brother and sister owners Mesfin Ayele and Martha Seyoum treat customers as if they are part of the family, often welcoming diners with smile and a hug. This cheery Ethiopian spot has a fun, casual vibe. The combination plates offer many different flavors and dishes at once. Opt for the less spicy version for kids. Don’t miss the doro wat, a rich and warmly spiced stew of chicken and boiled eggs, or the vividly yellow tikel gomen: braised cabbage, carrots and potatoes with a hint of mild curry flavor.  Served in the traditional communal Ethiopian style, your meal is served on top of a large, spongy bread called injera. Made primarily from teff flour, a healthy whole grain high in iron, protein and calcium, injera is also mostly gluten-free. (And with 24 hours’ notice, Jebena can prepare 100-percent gluten-free injera for a small extra fee.) When it’s time to eat, simply tear off a piece of injera and use it to scoop up some of the filling, no forks necessary. Jebena Cafe doesn’t serve alcohol, but you can bring your own beer or wine with no corkage fees.  1510 NE 117th St., Seattle.

Mamadou Diakhate opened La Teranga in 2012 after recognizing the lack of Senegalese food in Seattle. This tiny Columbia City spot makes up for what it lacks in size with its warm, comforting cuisine.  Venturesome eaters might try  thiebou djeun, a tomato-based fish stew considered the national dish of Senegal. The chicken yassa showcases Senegal’s French influences with a zingy lemon and caramelized onion sauce. Mafe is a great option for kids: a vegetable or meat stew served in a creamy, groundnut sauce (feel free to sell it as peanut butter), and the fried plantains and sweet potato fries are a hit for all. For beverages, try the bissap juice, flavored with hibiscus flower, or the tangy, citrusy tamarind juice.  4903½ Rainier Ave. S., Seattle.

 

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