The Dish: Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant owner talks Ethiopian cuisine, what she likes to cook

by Selam

If you’re ever in the mood for a food adventure, try the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant on Henderson Boulevard in South Tampa. That’s where you’ll get your fill of Doro Wot (chicken stew), Ye Beg Wot (lamb stew), Ye Kik Alecha (stewed yellow split peas), Gomen (collard greens) and, of course, Injera, a spongy bread used to scoop food.

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While the foreign names may make the food sound exotic, these dishes are common in many Ethiopian homes and reflect the everyday cooking of owner Seble Gizaw’s mother and family.

Vegetables dominate the cuisine and include beans, lentils, carrots, potatoes, collard greens, cabbage and okra. Just about every dish starts with ginger, garlic and onions. Chicken, beef and lamb figure prominently on the Queen of Sheba menu and in Ethiopian homes that can afford meat.

“At home, goat is also common. But that isn’t so popular here yet,” said Gizaw, who opened Queen of Sheba in 2007 and imports certain spices and ingredients directly from her homeland.

But nothing defines the flavor of Ethiopian cooking like the spice blend known as berbere. Gizaw, 52, who lives in Tampa, couldn’t cook without it. We asked her more about Ethiopian hospitality, especially the ceremonial coffee service, and the unique cuisine.

What brought you from Ethiopia to Florida?

I came to the U.S. to attend school in Huntsville, Ala., at Drake State Community and Technical College. I earned an associate’s degree in computer science

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