“Dinknesh” and “Lucy” were the names given to a three million-year-old female whose remains were discovered in modern-day Ethiopia, revolutionising much scientific understanding about human evolution. On the other side of the globe, this tale inspired another remarkable woman to open one of Footscray’s best-loved Ethiopian restaurants – Dinknesh Lucy.
Mulu Tiruneh is a pocket-sized ball of energy and can be found presiding over her beloved restaurant seven days a week.
“It’s my life,” she says proudly. “You do something [well] – you happy.”
Her legion of loyal fans clearly agrees. “My customers are like my family,” she says, explaining that if she fails to open right on time, she’ll often get hungry folks calling her phone and asking what’s up.
Mulu says her dishes are exactly what she cooks for herself at home (not that she’s there that much, preferring the colourful confines of her Barkly Street digs). Her firm favourite on the menu is key wot. Small, tender beef chunks in thick dark sauce arrive in a bubbling black clay pot. The sauce, flavoured with slow-cooked onion and rich berbere spice, is rich, spicy and just delicious.
Everything here is made in house, from the berbere spice blend to the injera. Mulu makes a pancake-like batter with wheat, sorghum and rice flour and leaves it overnight to develop a sourdough-like tang. She then gently trails onto a hotplate in a snail-shell shape to make delicate, feather-soft pancakes.
To eat, unroll a piece of injera onto your plate, spoon on a little key wot and use the injera to grab chunks of saucy beef. The cool, slightly gummy bread complements the mighty tingle of the key wot, making for a most delicious combination. In Amharic, “Dinknesh” means “wondrous”, and Mulu’s cooking makes this title seem more than fitting.
Read more Signature Dishes of Footscray
Lauren is a food writer and you can read more of her work at her blog.