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June 12, 2024

A guide to Tabor for those unfamiliar with Ethiopian cuisine

By MARIA HARAR | April 19, 2023

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COURTESY OF MARIA HARAR 

Harar ordered the nine-dish Veggie Combo at Tabor. 

Are you and your friends tired of eating on St. Paul Street for dinner? Me, too! Therefore, as everyone’s favorite Ethiopian on campus, it is my duty to introduce you to Ethiopian cuisine in Baltimore. 

Tabor Ethiopian Restaurant is a family-owned business located just a couple of miles from here within the Blue Jay Shuttle range! They specialize in a range of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine, and the food is dietary-restriction friendly. So, here is my guide to getting the best experience out of your meal.

Dinner for first-timers

Starters:

Sam-bu-sa. Say it with me: sambusa, not samosa. Sambusa is a classic snack in many cultures and a starter at Tabor. A single order comes with 3 pieces of sambusa and a side sauce for dipping. Personally, I prefer the veggie, but there's also a meat option that is just as good. 

Main:

The first thing to understand is that Ethiopian food is meant to be shared. While you can order individual plates, traditionally, you want to order a few items off the menu and then all eat together on a large, shared platter. If it’s your first time at Tabor, I would recommend getting a variety of things — the most “bang” for your buck. My go-to meal at Tabor is the Special Tibs and a Veggie Combo. Tibs is sauteed meat with onions, tomatoes, jalapeños and traditional spices. Trust me: Do not get the chicken tibs — try lamb or beef. The veggie combo is a vegan-friendly array of traditional dishes. At Tabor, you can order five to nine dishes per platter. My personal favorite veggie dishes at Tabor are the misir (lentils), gomen (kale), ater wot (yellow lentils) and tikil gomen (cabbage). 

The proper way to eat Ethiopian food is to tear a medium-sized piece of injera (a traditional sour flatbread) and sort of scoop the wot (stew) with it. Don’t be afraid to use your hands! While I personally could eat this entire order by myself, this amount would be good for two to three people. Even better, if you split the cost, it's comparable to buying a meal on St. Paul Street!

Daring eaters

Starters: 

Some of you are daring eaters. I see you, I respect you and, therefore, I will cater to you. Instead of sambusa, opt for their Singe Karya. This dish consists of a large jalapeño stuffed with diced onions, tomato and — you guessed it — more jalapeño. It can get pretty spicy but is very manageable for the most part — at least, for me. If at any point the meal becomes intolerable, don’t begin to hate me for recommending it. Just pop a piece of dry injera in your mouth, and you’ll feel a lot better.

Main:

The most daring meal that I can offer you is the Special Kifto. Kitfo is a dish that consists of raw beef, lightly sauteed with traditional butter and spices. It comes with an assortment of traditional sides called ibe, kocho and gomen. I know it may sound crazy, but it's really just a spicy version of beef tartare and is more fun to eat. If you're reading this section, you identify as daring, don’t back out on me now! 


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