Take your taste buds on an exotic journey at the top nine African and Middle Eastern eateries in Adelaide and its surrounding suburbs.
From South Africa comes Africolaaf- a colourful creation complete with a large fire pit in the kitchen to cook those “bush meats”. There’s no springbok or ostrich on the menu though, instead that fire pit could sizzle with South African spiral sausages called boerewors, wood roasted hearts, ash potatoes, whole fish, and peri-peri chicken.
Despite the heat of the kitchen, there’s a cool vibe in this busy place. Set yourself down on a bar stool on in a booth, take in the vibrantly coloured walls, the reggae and African tunes and the cocktail shaking. Chef Duncan Welgemoed was born and raised in South Africa. Before opening Africola he was the head chef at Adelaide’s Bistro Dom. An $85 a head ‘Let Us Feed You’ taste experience will give you a good insight into what he’s all about.
Where to find it: East Terrace, Adelaide
2. Parwana Afghan Kitchen
It’s worth heading to the seaside for genuine Afghani food at Parwana Afghan Kitchen, not least because this restaurant’s owners made an awful long journey to get there too. Zelmai and Farida Ayubi migrated from Afghanistan with their young family in 1987. Now they infuse their cooking with the memories of the Afghanistan they once knew.
Dumplings are hugely popular in Afghanistan, but they are difficult to make so are reserved for celebrations. So, celebrate! Try the Mantu steamed dumplings stuffed with carrot and sautéed onion.
But there is so much more to savour. Like the karayee morgh – or pan-fried chicken pieces coated in garlic, chilli, coriander and yogurt. Oh, and finger licking is part of the deal, because in Afghanistan it’s traditional to eat with your right hand and use the bread to scoop things up. Local beers also go down a treat, but you could go cold turkey and try a Rose Sharbat. It’s made with rose syrup and infused with basil seeds. Or a Sour Cherry Sharbat made with Morello cherry syrup. Leave room for a ginger and walnut ice cream, or a traditional candied apple preserve served with vanilla and cardamom ice cream.
Where to find it: 124b Henley Beach Road, Adelaide.
3. Kutchi Deli Parwana
The children of Parwana Afghan Kitchen founders, together with their partners, have created Kutchi Deli Parwana - this friendly, hole-in-the-wall lunchtime space with jewel-like tiles that give it a spangle. The menu is compact, with just 10 great value main dishes.
The morgh degee, made from chicken pieces in yoghurt and spices, melts in your mouth and comes wrapped in an Afghan naan with salad and herb chutney. Meanwhile, a signature dish of eggplant slices simmering in a tomato and yoghurt sauce is a vegetarian masterpiece. A couple of dumpling dishes go down well too, especially the fried dumplings stuffed with leek and topped with lamb in a yogurt sauce. Bolani – or pan-fried turnovers filled with lamb or potato – help balance the menu. By the way, Kutchi means ‘nomad’ or ‘gypsy’ in Farsi. The owners believe it symbolises the family story of migration and new beginnings.
Where to find it: 7 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide.
4. Addis Ababa Café
A simple hut-like appearance, fairy lights and traditional music, makes Addis Ababa Café into a night out in Ethiopia. Just tear off a piece of tangy injera bread and mop up a portion of Kifto, a delicately-spiced minced beef dish drizzled with clarified butter. Eat it either raw or lightly browned.
Another house speciality is tibs, translating to sizzling cubes of lean beef and lamb ribs, seasoned with onion, capsicum and ghee and sprinkled with an Ethiopian mitmita spice mix of chilli, cardamom and cloves. The food arrives at the table under a traditional wooden cloche and when it’s removed a waft of exotic spices billows out. Perhaps the best way to experience the range of cuisine is to opt for the $28 per person banquet. It offers unlimited refills of dishes and bread.
Where to find it: Shop 4, 462 Port Road, West Hindmarsh.
5. Marrakech Restaurant
Marrakech serves authentic Moroccan food with an emphasis on traditional spices. Owner and head chef, Mohamed Bartaouch, makes friends easily with his platter of three Moroccan dips with warm pita bread. Go with friends or family to really appreciate the sharing aspect of Moroccan cuisine, especially if you order a meal cooked in the traditional earthenware pot called a tagine. Loosen your trousers because the melting meat of a lamb tagine with prunes and almonds and fluffy couscous will fill you almost to bursting point. But who can go past the pancakes with honey, cream, strawberries and walnuts for desert?
Where to find it: 91 O'Connell Street, North Adelaide.
6. Jerusalem Sheshkebab House
This Middle Eastern eatery has been a local institution for more than 30 years, so it must be doing something right. At Jerusalem Sheshkebab House, the service is not fancy, but it’s quick. The authentic Arabic/Israeli cuisine is homely and delicious. It’s good quality in a simple way. Fill up on hummus, tabouli and baba ghanouj. Try the felafel, chargrilled marinated lamb kebabs and cauliflower served in a spicy yoghurt and tahini sauce. What can beat a dessert of baklava, halwa or Turkish delight?
Where to find it: 131b Hindley Street, Adelaide.
7. The Ghan Kebab House
A short taxi ride from the city centre takes you to the suburb of Kilburn to The Ghan Kebab House.
It’s an atmospheric kind of place, with chandeliers and wall hangings and photographic murals dominating the scene. The chicken tikka kebabs are grilled and marinated to perfection. Shami kebabs, made from lamb and dhal mixed together, are a knockout. As for the charcoal chickens, which are flattened and well spiced and served with naan bread and fluffy basmati rice … they are so good that they almost fly out of the kitchen.
Where to find it: 366 Prospect Road, Kilburn.
8. Hello Dolly
Hello Dolly is a business run by a family from a little town in the Shouf Mountains of Lebanon. It oozes typical Middle Eastern hospitality, and offers a huge variety of homemade food, with the emphasis on pure and natural. This Lebanese institution is a take-away hit, but it also has a small casual area put aside for eating in. The menu is impressive, with over 60 choices. Hello Dolly is well-known for its pita wraps, authentic salads, and sweets. All the old favourites are here, like falafels, spinach pie, hoummus, tabouli, and babaganouj. For something different, try a chickpea casserole or the fish baked with lemon vinegar, nuts, coriander and tahini.
Where to find it: 1a/103 Payneham Road, St Peters.
9. Abyssinian Restaurant
Yet another restaurant that’s worth its salt is this unpretentious eatery near the sea, Abyssinian Restaurant. The menu is an interesting one if you are not used to Ethiopian food, with plenty of meat and vegetarian dishes on offer. A stand out dish is the Doro-wot – a traditional favourite of chicken legs simmered in a spicy, onion sauce served with boiled eggs. The banquet makes for a bonding adventure. Expect one large plate, covered with an overhanging layer of Ethiopian bread and mounds of various selections off the menu. Just dig in, all together, hands first.
Where to find it: 126 Henley Beach Road, Torrensville.