Enticing flavours of the Nile


By Susan Mackie

SYDNEY — Tahir Hussan comes from the Darfour area of western Sudan. A rich cattle growing area on the banks of the Nile it is the home to the delicious cuisine served at his new cafe, Taste of the Nile, just off Oxford Street at Taylor Square.

The name refers to the fact that all along the Nile you can taste similar foods: from the top of Egypt to Ethiopia and northern Uganda, the movement of peoples along the river has spread and mingled many diverse cooking traditions.

Since the age of nine, from his mother's kitchen, Tahir has cooked for pleasure. He calls it a "hobby". But I'm very glad his friends encouraged him to take his talents to the public. Influenced by British, Turkish and Arab colonisation, Sudanese food is well worth experiencing.

For example the moulah (lamb or vegetarian) is a mild curry or stew, made less hot for Australian tastebuds, but still by no means bland. The subtle mixture of Indian spices, African vegetables and dairy ingredients offers a refreshing change from the Thai, Indian or Indonesian variety.

My favourite dish (so far that is; he is adding to the menu all the time) is the tabikha (vegetarian or chicken) served with rice and traditional side salads. It is similar to the moulah but has a creamy peanut sauce base. Both of these dishes and many other main meals can be had for the extremely reasonable price of $5-7, and the salads are also a real treat and only $3.

All cafes serve coffee, but you're in for something special here. Sudanese coffee is the intense short black variety, spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and ginger root. For the less adventurous, there is the usual range of teas and coffee for $1 and fresh juices for $2.