Meet the Ethiopian chef bringing fresh tastes to Shepherds Bush Market

Nazareth Kelif is inspired by her East African heritage to share healthy, flavour-rich food that packs a punch to Shepherds Bush.

Nazareth Kelif at her restaurant, Delina with a platter called beyaynetu
Image credit
Justin Thomas

Take a journey into the vibrant heart of Ethiopian cuisine at a unique restaurant and cookery school that combines rich tastes and fresh flavours with health-packed ingredients.

Flavour, freshness and health are an essential trio for Delina founder Nazareth Kelif, who shares the distinct flavours of East Africa from her restaurant in Shepherds Bush Market.

“Ethiopian food is quite unique,” explains Nazareth, who launched her business from her kitchen table a decade ago. “And with so many fresh vegetables, delicious spice blends and our traditional fermented flatbread, it is such a healthy cuisine generally and caters for all different diets.

“I believe food really brings people together and breaks down barriers, and that’s what makes me so passionate about Delina.”

‘Amazing’ says Rick Stein

Described by television presenter and chef Rick Stein as “amazing” during a visit to Delina for his first taste of Ethiopian cuisine while filming for BBC show Food Stories, which aired in February, the restaurant is a haven for foodies.

The aroma of the rich berbere 10-spice mix that flavours each dish wafts through the air of Delina’s vaulted ceiling in Arch 176, while the vegetables that combine for the tasty stews and salads are locally sourced from Shepherds Bush Market.

With ingredients including lentils, chickpeas, spinach, beetroot and okra, as well as the gluten-free teff flour that makes the fermented flatbread called injera, eating well is high on the agenda here.

Every dish is inspired by Nazareth’s childhood in Ethiopia and later Eritrea, before her family moved to the UK in 1994 to escape ongoing conflict.

“I grew up with food and my greatest memory is of going to the market with my mum,” says Nazareth, who studied at the London College of Communication after arriving in the capital. “I just loved the vibrant hustle and bustle, and our food was always fresh. Because I grew up in that environment, it is natural for me to cook that way too.”

Nazareth making injera flatbread for bayaynetu
Image credit
Justin Thomas

Growing business

Initially running street food stalls and sharing cooking classes with local schoolchildren while her young daughter was at primary school, Nazareth grew Delina until she was able to open as a restaurant four years ago.

One of the most popular dishes at Delina is a platter called beyaynetu, which combines six vegetarian tasters along with the freshly-made injera flatbread.

“The flatbread is made with teff flour, which is fermented, making it really good for gut health,” adds mum-of-two Nazareth.

“A really popular veggie dish is misir wot, which combines lentils, spices, tomatoes and garlic, and we also created a packaged version that customers can take to cook at home.”

A wide variety of dishes also includes lamb, chicken and beef stews, alongside the vegetarian specialities, as well as stir fries, salads, and freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.

Eating healthy

Recently recognised with Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Healthier Catering Commitment award, Delina restaurant is one of the borough’s food businesses working on helping residents to eat well and improve their health.

The commitment means businesses across the borough take action on producing healthier food by reducing ingredients like salt and sugar, offering options such as salads and cutting down on additions like mayonnaise and oil.

Keen foodies can take their culinary experience a step further, as passionate chef Nazareth, 45, runs cookery classes for private groups of up to 12 people.

Learning the essentials of Ethiopian cooking, friends, families and corporate groups can become immersed in the flavours of the region before enjoying their dishes in the restaurant’s colourful surroundings.

“You don’t just come here to eat Ethiopian food,” says Nazareth. “Because Delina is in the market, you can grab something fresh from one of the stalls while you’re here. It’s a real community.”

Coffee and dessert

The famous Ethiopian coffee isn’t forgotten, as Nazareth also runs coffee-making sessions that follow the journey from fresh, green bean right through to roasting, grinding and drinking.

And for those with a sweet tooth, Nazareth takes inspiration from the date, honey and nut desserts of her childhood to create treats including a vegan chocolate teff cake, an Ethiopian sweet bread made with nigella seeds called hambasha, and cocoa cashew energy balls.

“People often ask for desserts, and so I started making Ethiopian-style sweet treats,” explains Nazareth. “I grew up eating lots of dates, honey, and nuts. In Ethiopia, we do not have lots of sweet items, so I use honey or dates for the sweetener and plant-based butter.

“When combined, they are very tasty and nutritious and most of them are vegan and gluten-free as well.”

With food creating “so much togetherness”, Nazareth is determined that her slice of Ethiopia in Shepherds Bush continues to inspire a love of the delicious cuisine.

“It’s such a big part of my life and I want to say thank you for all the support I’ve had from the whole community,” she says.

“We opened during Covid times – so it was hard, but I’ve had so much support and that has kept my passion going. I’d love to see Delina keep introducing people to new flavours, and nurturing that cultural heart.”

Find out more about Delina restaurant and cookery school at the Delina Kitchen website.

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