Food review: Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine
Pictured is a typical meal at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine at 1312 Michigan Ave. in East Lansing. Photo by Abbigail Cowels
Four and a Half out of Five Stars
By Abbigail Cowels
The moment I walked into Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine at 1312 Michigan Ave. in East Lansing, I was greeted by the friendly staff and the warm aroma of bread and turmeric.
It is a small space but it has plenty of seating. There are tables to fit a party of 12, to more intimate seating for two.
The interior will make you think of a warmer climate in the colder season coming up, and there is cuisine to match.
I arrived later in the afternoon. If I had come earlier in the day I may have had the pleasure of meeting Altu Tadesse herself. I was happy to find the story, along with some descriptions of what traditional Ethiopian food looks like.
Tadesse grew up in Ethiopia, wanting to share her childhood favorites with more culinary creativity.
Her bio states, “Altu instinctively approaches food as a composer creates a musical piece.”
Blending spices to create something more modern while respecting cultural culinary tradition, the air is spiced with black pepper and cardamom.
I started with sambusa, a triangular wonton stuffed with leeks and lentils. They were so delicate and savory, I nearly had forgotten I ordered other dishes.
The server brought me a combo plate of spicy beef and mild chicken stew. The other was a mild chickpea sauce. Both were served with a large crepe-like bread called injera.
The server explained that the bread is made similarly to sourdough. It is fermented and that is what gives its unique taste and texture. It was explained that meals are never eaten alone in Ethiopia and injera is used like a utensil to grab up stewed meats or vegetables.
The chickpea sauce was pungent and citrusy, and the beef and chicken were so tender and not overly spicy. It was the perfect partner to the injera.
If you are looking for a warm place to sit down and share a meal, go to Altu’s.