I'm a Brisbane based freelance writer who's fascinated by food, fashion and fitness.
Published October 29th 2013
A trip for your tastebuds
One of the many benefits of travel is the opportunity to experience new cultures and sample different cuisines. But what do you do when the flesh is willing but the wallet is weak? Start in your own backyard of course! I've done just that and found a hidden pocket of deliciousness in Moorooka, via Eritrea.
A little bit about Eritrea
Eritrea is in Africa, east of Sudan and west of Yemen. Like many former colonial nations, it has a history of conflict. There has been ongoing violence with Ethiopia since 1952 and although it was liberated and declared independent in the early 1990s, the current situation is one of 'no peace, no war'. This, along with the dictatorship government, continues to cause thousands of Eritreans to seek a more peaceful life elsewhere.
There are approximately 1200 Eritreans living in Brisbane, mainly on the south side which is where the gem that is Mu'ooz is found.
The birth of Mu'ooz
Mu'ooz is a not-for-profit social enterprise founded in 2003 by a group of 32 refugee women from Eritrea and surrounding African nations. Aimed at addressing their lack of employment opportunities, social and economic dependency and breaking down cross cultural barriers, they began by making and selling traditional Eritrean cuisine at festivals. Over the next few years the business expanded into catering and delivery services to newly arrived refugees and Mu'ooz the restaurant was opened in January 2008.
Mu'ooz' means tasty and healthy in Tigrinya, the language of Eritrea and parts of Ethiopia. And it more than lives up to its name! My sister and I started with the Sambusa Sigha – a crisp filo parcel filled with beef mince seasoned with Eritrean herbs and spices and accompanied by Silsie, a tasty tomato based dipping sauce/chutney.
Traditional Eritrean meal served on enjera Rama / Wikimedia Commons
We then moved onto a shared platter of Brusun; a red lentil dish stewed in Eritrean spices, and Dorho Zighni; a spicy chicken curry flavoured with berbere, onion, garlic, tomato and tasame. It was quite spicy but when balanced with the lentil dish a lot of the heat is removed. It was an eye opener to learn that the food served in the restaurant is much milder than what the ladies working in the restaurant would eat at home. So if you like your curry really spicy, ask for the home-made version - I dare you!
Both dishes were served on a platter with layers of enjera, a sourdough flatbread the flavour of which perfectly offset the slight sweet spiciness of the Dorho Zighni and the rich flavour of the Brusun. Enjera is used in lieu of cutlery: simply tear a piece off and use it as a scoop to eat bite sized portions of the main dish. Cutlery is available if you can't master the tear and scoop but as it's all about the experience I recommend you at least try it.
The menu caters for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike and some dishes are also gluten free. We found the meal to be incredibly filling and the service was prompt, friendly and helpful. So if you're after an adventure of the culinary kind and want to service your karma at the same time, I can't recommend a visit to Mu'ooz highly enough.
NOTE – Mu'ooz will be moving to new premises in West End in the next month or so - check the website for details before you book.