Celebrate Ethiopian culture with Tinsae Elsdon and Welcome Merchant

Welcome Merchant are hosting another feast for good this Saturday, a hearty and heart-warming 3-course Ethiopian lunch, with Ethiopian-Australian cook Tinsae Elsdon.

Tinsae’s interest in food began in her teenage years as she helped her mother and auntie in the kitchen. Tinsae then began making traditional Ethiopian coffee at markets and events – at these events, “people would ask [me] about Ethiopian food. I realised there was a real interest in Ethiopian food and culture”. This public interest is what fuelled Tinsae to begin hosting cooking classes and pop-up dinners, which have become an immense source of pride. Tinsae tells us that “the first time I held a secret dinner in my home was very special. It was a beautiful experience having people from different walks of life around my table, and sharing my food and culture”.

The pop-up lunch on Saturday will highlight the uniqueness of Ethiopian cuisine. Ethiopian cuisine revolves around injera – a soft, pancake-type, fermented bread that is the staple of most Ethiopian meals. Traditionally, Ethiopian dining is a shared experience where people gather around a large communal plate.

Another shared experience in Ethiopian culture which holds deep importance is the drinking of coffee. Saturday’s pop-up lunch will be followed by an Ethiopian coffee ceremony – Tinsae explains the cultural significance of the ceremony, as well as the unique way in which the coffee beans are prepared and roasted.

“Coffee originated in Ethiopia so it is an integral part of the culture,” Tinsae explains. “It is always a social occasion. You will call the neighbours over, and always start brewing if visitors pop in.”

According to Tinsae, the coffee beans for the ceremony are purchased raw and then roasted over hot coals. Then, the roasted beans are hand-ground and the coffee is brewed on the coals in a traditional clay pot called a “djebena”. It is served in small cups called “sini” and three rounds are usually consumed in one sitting. This is sure to be a memorable experience for all diners at the pop-up lunch.

$10 from each ticket of the sold-out lunch will go towards Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, a healthcare network of over 550 Ethiopian staff servicing six fistula hospitals. You can donate directly to the cause here.

Keep up-to-date with Tinsae via her website and on instagram at @dinnerwithtinsae and @djebenacoffees.

As always, keep an eye out for future Welcome Merchant events here.

Photographs supplied by Tinsae Elsdon.