A cozy storefront in the Towne and Country Shopping Mall opens to an aromatic kitchen and scrumptious cuisine. Kasahun Behareselase, owner and cook at Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant, has transformed his space on the northwest corner of Kalamazoo and 44th Street into a kaleidoscope of traditional Ethiopian flavors.
Kasahun first learned to craft Ethiopian dishes at a restaurant in Chicago. Since December 2013 he has offered his twist on traditional fare at Gursha. The menu is packed with well-loved dishes for fans of Ethiopian food. Stews and curries featuring berbere, mitmita, cardamom and chickpeas are presented on injera, a delicious sourdough flatbread that serves as an edible platter and utensil.
On a recent lunch visit, my group and I enjoyed multiple vegetable sides and a few meat dishes on a large round of injera. The generously seasoned and slow-cooked offerings had a bit of noticeable heat, and were a perfect challenge for those of us who regularly enjoyed spicy food. The sweet, wooden smell of roasting coffee wet our palates for strong traditional coffee—available for $3 per person, and free for parties of six or more. Served hot in a pot called a jebena, velvet grounds darkened the bottom of our empty cups.
Gursha means “to feed each other.” An Amharic word literally meaning “mouthful,” Gursha takes its name from the traditional Ethiopian practice of diners literally feeding one another across the table. My lunch group and I didn’t quite elevate our experience to that level of authenticity, but we found plenty to rave about and point-out to each other, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Gursha not only celebrates traditional cuisine, but also, Kasahun says, “feeding each other in other ways.” Easter and Christmas celebrations nourish the Ethiopian community in Grand Rapids by remembering the taste of old traditions. Often a coffee ceremony is held and party-goers dress in traditional clothing while enjoy doro wat and with other homemade delicacies. By preserving these community practices Kasahun hopes to perfect traditional cuisine, and gain more customers. If you would like to visit Gursha it is open 9am - 10pm Monday through Saturday, and 1pm - 10pm on Sunday. You can find the restaurant at 4301 Kalamazoo Ave SE in Grand Rapids.