Mosob – Eritrean delight in London

Where is Eritrea? It’s next to Ethiopia, on the Red Sea, and also happens to be a 5 minute walk away from my flat. Mosob is a little haven amidst the bustling streets of London, with varied smells far beyond anything you could imagine. I came here almost a year ago, and I have been waiting to return ever since. A visit from a university friend finally yielded that chance.

I was amazed, again, at the similarities Eritrean food has to Indian food. They use ghee, paneer and daal, and their samosas are called ‘sambosas’. There are, however, some very marked differences.

I love sharing food, and I am not a big fan of going to a restaurant where everybody orders and eats only one dish. At Mosob, this is not even a choice, as all dishes are spread out on injera (a traditional flatbread, which tastes slightly sour and has a spongy texture) on a huge steel plate, and everybody just helps themselves. I was fascinated how each dish was split in two and put on opposite sides of the plate, so that everybody could have easy access to all the different flavours.

I cannot talk about Mosob without mentioning the amazing service. The staff is friendly not just on a superficial level – they really treated us like friends. The first time I went, we were challenged to a geography game and quizzed on capital cities beginning and ending with the same letter, countries with 4 letters, countries beginning and ending in different vowels… It occupied us to no end, and we were later told that this was a way they kept their guests entertained until the food arrives. It’s an amazing concept, since Eritrean cooking takes a while, and people are quite impatient. What better way to keep them busy than with brainteasers?

Now, to the food. We started off with meat sambosas and the spinach rolls, which were wrapped in injera. They gave us a little yogurt to dip it in, which was so tasty!

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Our main courses came spread out in the injera, and they were phenomenal. We had Derho Quluwa (chicken sautéed with onions and mixed peppers), Kitfo (finely chopped beef mixed with spicy butter and served with cottage cheese) and the Mosob Special (marinated lamb chops grilled and served with spinach and lentils). My personal favourite was the chicken, which had a flavour I’d never tasted before. And the lamb as well, which was slightly sticky. Oh, and the spinach was by far the best spinach I have ever tasted… we just couldn’t figure out what was in it, but it was incredible.

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Mosob is not a quick dinner, as the food takes a while – but the wait is worth every minute. The service is probably the best I’ve had in London, and the quizzes keep you occupied long after you get home!

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