World Marathon Ethiopian Restaurant is one place where you can take your senses on a culinary ride into Africa and experience new tastes and a unique way of dining.

Marathon's Meat Combo Platter

Forget about using forks and knives here. Every item on the menu comes with a side of injera bread to grab hold of and soak in the exotic flavours of each dish. Just tear a piece of this flat, spongy bread and dig in.

“You have to use your hand and the bread to eat,” explains Abdo Alwan, owner of this ethnic eatery. “Traditionally a couple of people eat together off one plate with meat, vegetables, lamb or whatever they order.”

The food is fresh, spicy and 100 percent traditional Ethiopian. As the only Ethiopian restaurant in Windsor, trying to find local markets that sold the ingredients used in the dishes was a challenge. Spices such as tumeric, paprika and berbere (a necessary element in Ethiopian cuisine that consists of a blend of spices including red chili powder) are used and prepared every day. Abdo, along with his wife and son, works in the restaurant preparing the food and tending to customers every need.

“Anyone who comes here, their first question is always ‘what is injera?'” says Abdo. “I explain that injera is the bread. You can order rice instead with any of the menu options instead of eating with injera.”

Pina using the injera to scoop up some food.

Abdo starts early each morning preparing the injera. Made from teff flour, an ancient grain, it is mixed with water and allowed to ferment. The prepared food is placed on the injera for serving, soaking up the flavours and juices of the stews and salads. You can even buy injera to take home. Along with selling it in a few specialty shops in Windsor, Abdo also sells this spongy flatbread from the restaurant.

But the injera isn’t the only unique aspect to World Marathon. Dishes such as Ye-Bere Wat and Doro Tibs explode with flavour. For those of us that can never decide on one item, the combos give you the chance to sample an assortment of items from the menu including braised beef in berbere sauce, seasoned lentils, chicken sautéed in onions and tomatoes and tender beef tibs all served atop injera.

Not into beef or chicken? Marathon has that covered too! From various types of wat (stew that has been slowly simmered) to affiza (lentils, onions and green chilies drizzled with an olive oil and lemon dressing), the vegetarian menu is just as diverse. And if you can’t decide on which one to pick, choose the Vegetarian Combo to get a taste of them all.

The Meat Platter Combo and injera bread side by side.

“Ask as many questions as you want to know more about the food that you are ordering,” suggests Abdo. “If you are not sure of what to order, taking recommendations from the servers helps a lot. We are very knowledgeable about the food and can explain anything.”

After the meal you can experience a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Since coffee originates from Ethiopia, it plays on important part of the culture. Just as important is the manner in which the coffee is served. Served from a Jebena, a clay pot in which the coffee is boiled, the beans are roasted and ground in front of the guest.

“We normally buy green coffee beans, roast them then take them out for the customer to smell the beans then grind the coffee,” explains Abdo.

World Marathon is a great alternative to traditional dining. Sharing a plate of mouth-watering cuisine amongst a group of friends makes for an evening of great conversations and an eclectic dining experience.

Marathon is located at 60 University Avenue West. Check out their menu at www.windsoreats.com/marathon