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St. Yared Puts East African Cuisine on Indy’s Map

The best advice St. Yared Ethiopian Cuisine and Coffeehaus owner Etenesh Abebe offers about ambasha, a puffy, focaccia-like bread, is to put the honey on first. That way the tangy East African cottage cheese ayib, a savory foil to the honey, will stay put while you snack on hunks of this traditional celebration pastry. It’s a subtle cultural suggestion—one of many Abebe had longed to share about the cuisine and customs of her native Ethiopia since moving to the United States with her husband, Haile, an Eli Lilly and Company employee, nearly two decades ago.

In autumn of 2013, Abebe got her chance, opening her own cozy restaurant in a strip mall near Geist that is as much a shrine to Ethiopian history as to its food. Fringed with earth-toned walls and scrolls recounting stories of Ethiopian orthodoxy, St. Yared offers a particularly fresh approach to the aromatic dishes of Abebe’s homeland. Favorites include Doro Wot, fiery chicken drumsticks marinated in lemon, and Ye-beg Wot, tender hunks of lamb with undertones of garlic and ginger. A fully stocked bar serving craft beer and a recently added breakfast menu with Caribbean salt fish—as well as plenty of omelets and waffles—make this a great spot both for Ethiopian-food fans and those who need Abebe to give them a few pointers. 11210 Fall Creek Rd., 317-363-4435, styaredcuisine.com

 

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.
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