In Addis Ababa, Tizita Nadew, from Ethiopia, and Ousman Bakary from Nigeria established the House of Fulani Art Restaurant and Cafe five months ago. Since African restaurants are rare in the capital, House of Fulani became a preferred dining corner by many African foreigners.
Over the months, the restaurant, which employed chefs specialized in African traditional foods, has attracted numerous customers within a short period of time.
As Addis Zeybe walks into the restaurant at lunchtime, the place is buzzing with activity. waiters are seen dashing around delivering steaming plates of food, people laughing and chatting—clearly enjoying their experience and surroundings amongst the vibrant artwork displayed on the walls.
“We have fostered good relations with various tour companies since our clients range from tourists, local workers, expats, and officials, who visit us time and again,” says Tizita.
As the restaurant is intended to showcase Africa's culinary culture, it focuses its catering on foods prepared from fresh African products, cooked in a traditional African style.
House of Fulani has a special menu for its customers. Among the famous ones is Jollof rice, which is preferred by people of many West African countries. It is made of tomato, onion, and scotch bonnet pepper. According to Tizita’s explanation, Jollof rice is a party dish brought out for celebrations in Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, and Togo. Thus jollof rice is one sign of the interrelation of African cultures.
Other special foods such as Olele and Dormodah are among the cuisines shared commonly across the region like Ugali, Cassava, Tilapia, and Chapati.
Talking about special drinks, fruits sourced from African countries are made into traditional drinks. Among those Wonjoh, Baobab, Ditah, Tej, and Daharr are available.
Musa Alieu, a Rwandan diplomat who works for Rwanda Embassy in Addis Ababa visited Fulani one day and became a regular customer.
“I have been working in this town for the last five years, but I have never found such a place where I feel like home. I usually come here when I miss my Rwandan delicacy,” he says.
He explains that he continued coming to this place frequently because of the excellent menu, the homemade foods, and the wonderful service being lulled to the culinary excitement with the delicious-looking appetizer.
Mariama Alhagie from Ghana, an NGO worker feels the same, she says she used to cook her hometown dishes by herself when she missed them, before finding out about the House of Fulani. “Thanks to this place now I can get my hometown food whenever I want to. Now I become one of the regular visitors, all my favorite cuisines including Tuo Zafo are served here with the best quality and affordable price,” she says.
The Ethiopian cultural foods of the restaurant are also loved by both local and foreign customers.
“We often come here to eat Ethiopian dishes from Doro Wot to Kitfo and Tegabino. And if you are into alcohol, all the popular Ethiopian traditional beverages including Tej and Tella are available here,” says Abel Degefu, whom we met at The House of Fulani, dining with his friends. “We also enjoy the other African traditional foods of the restaurant.”
The name of the art restaurant is derived from the name of the Fulani people. The Fulani Empire emerged as the Berbers migrated down from North Africa around 700-1,000 AD. Over a thousand-year period, they spread out over most of West Africa and into central Africa. The Fulani are the largest nomadic ethnic group, traveling to wherever there is green pasture to feed their cattle.
Explaining as to what inspired them to launch an eatery in Addis Ababa Tizita says, “I have been to different African countries due to work and sometimes just for travel, and the diverse beauty of the continent made me wonder, ‘why not come up with a Pan African restaurant in my country.’ I then talked to my Gambian friend Ousman and that made this art restaurant a reality.”
The business partners are now planning to extend their business with more branches in different parts of Africa. And they are finalizing the launching of two branches in Kenya and Uganda. “Our dream is to see the House of Fulani in every corner of Africa. And we are confident that this aspiration will be realized,” says Tizita whose humanitarian work further proved how food ties communities together.