In Jinja, when hunger strikes, it’s quite easy taking a turn and making a belly fill at any of the restaurants around. I mean, there’s a variety of local food and fast food joints to choose from. A few years back, a few eateries that served foreign cuisine came up with those serving Indian cuisines taking the lead. Fast on their heels was a Chinese diner and most recently an Ethiopian Café.
Located on Jinja’s Main Street, you can’t really miss Bunna Café. Situated on a corner where Naranbhai Road crosses Main Street, the large window space gives away a not-so-busy but neat and tidy restaurant. All you need to do is step inside and that is when the magic strikes.
Bunna Café isn’t your ordinary café or restaurant. Well, it is ordinary that the furniture borrows from many wooden creative ideas, ordinary that they have a pastry display case that can be seen from even outside, and ordinary that it is a café. Bunna Café is not ordinary because it is an Ethiopian Café.
The waiter I found, with the attention of an askari at an NRM MP’s house, walked to me instantly and was quick to respond to my order. I just wanted to try out something new so I asked him to surprise me.
“There’s an unexplainable aroma and feeling when you taste beef the Ethiopian way…”
As my order was being prepared (it took some waiting but I hardly noticed), my eyes wandered around and appreciated the wood work that was the furniture; nothing fancy but it stands out. I also noticed that not so many people walk in here save for a few tourists and whites; I only noticed 3 locals who seemed conversant with the place.
As I browsed the Internet on my laptop (they have good Wi-Fi too,) my meal arrived and I must admit, it looked strangely new to me. “I’m new to this so please tell me what this is and how I go about it,” I asked Hassan, the waiter.
“Oh. That’s fine. This is Shekla Tibs and it’s a bit spicy. These rolls here are called injera and it’s an Ethiopian staple and also a base for most Ethiopian dishes. You can’t have any dish without injera,” tutored Hassan. “This here (pointing to a slightly raised hot clay pan) is the Shekla Tibs. It’s beef sautéed with onions, tomatoes, green pepper and spices. We serve it hot because that is how it is meant to be eaten,” continued Hassan as he invited me to enjoy my lunch.
Injera is a sour and spongy round bread, made of teff flour that’s naturally vegan and gluten-free. Sauces and dishes are commonly poured on top of the injera, which is then used as a vehicle to get the deliciousness from table to mouth but here, it was rolled up in wraps and the awaze sauce poured out in a small dish. I personally didn’t eat much of the injera which I’m told comes in a darker and lighter version, depending on the teff variety and has a very strong taste and texture, kind of addictive.
The Shekla Tibs were served sizzling hot that I had to use a fork to pick on the diced beef and vegetables. There’s an unexplainable aroma and feeling when you taste beef the Ethiopian way but to bring it closer home, the beef and vegetables retain all the natural freshness in them as you munch away. I didn’t’ finish my injera dish but did justice to the tibs.
The cafe, run by Adra Suleiman, young brother to Hashim Suleiman (former Youth and ICT MInister in the Busoga Kingdom) and his Ethiopian wife offers this and many more Ethiopian dishes including Ethiopian Coffee. For not more that UGx 30,000, you can choose from dishes like the Shekla Tibs I had, Shiro Wat, Doro Wat, Doro Tibs, Alecha, Asa Tibs, Fir Fir, Kitfo, Mixed Vegetables and a host of others served with either injera, chapati or fries. They also have a family combo for four people that goes for UGx 45,000.
Bunna Café also plays host to the Pop Up Gallery where a visual artist’s collection is showcased for a whole month at the café with chances to buy some of it.
The weekend is here, why not take that culinary adventure with friends or family as Ethiopian food is best shared not alone.