Cuisine of Ethiopia

"( [ Can't see the fonts?] )"Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of "wot (With a hard 't' noise)", a thick stew, served atop "injera", a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 50 centimeters (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour. Ethiopians eat with their right hands, using pieces of "injera" to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes. No utensils are used.

Traditional Ethiopian cuisine employs no pork of any kind, as most Ethiopians are either or Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, Muslims or Jews , and are thus prohibited from eating pork. Furthermore, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church prescribes a number of fasting ("tsom" Ge'ez: ጾም "tṣōm") periods, including Wednesdays, Fridays, and the entire Lenten season, so Ethiopian cuisine contains many vegetarian (Amharic: "ye-tsom" የጾም "ye-ṣōm", Tigrinya: "nay-tsom" ናይጾም "nāy-ṣōm") dishes. This has also led Ethiopian cooks to develop a rich array of cooking oil sources: besides Sesame and safflower, Ethiopian cuisine also uses "nug" (also spelled "noog", known also as "niger seed"). [Paul B. Henze, "Layers of Time: A history of Ethiopia" (New York: Palgrove, 2000), p. 12 and note] Ethiopian restaurants are a popular choice for vegetarians living in Western countries.

Ethiopian cuisine is also known for its spiciness. J. Innes Miller cites a publication of the Ethiopian Ministry of Education that listed a number of spices grown in Ethiopia in 1954, which include fenugreek, cumin, basil, coriander, ginger, saffron, mustard, cardamom, "Red pepper" ("Capsicum annuum") and thyme. Innes Miller notes that "all of these, except red pepper, belonged to the Roman world." [J. Innes Miller, "The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), p. 108]

Types of Ethiopian Cuisine

"Berbere", a combination of powdered chile pepper and other spices (somewhat analogous to Southwestern American chili powder), is an important ingredient used in many dishes. Also essential is "niter kibbeh", a clarified butter infused with ginger, garlic, and several spices.


"Wat" stews all begin with a large amount of chopped red onions, which the cook simmers or sautees in a pot. Once the onions have softened, the cook adds niter kebbe (or, in the case of vegan dishes, vegetable oil). Following this, the cook adds berbere to make a spicy "keiy" (Amharic: ቀይ "ḳey", Tigrinya, Ge'ez: ቀይሕ "ḳeyyiḥ"; "red") "wat", or may omit the berbere for a milder "alicha wat" or "alecha wat" (Amharic: አሊጫ "ālič̣ā"). In the event that the berbere is particularly spicy, the cook may elect to add it before the "kibbeh" or oil so the berbere will cook longer and become milder. Finally, the cook adds meat such as beef ("siga", Ge'ez: ሥጋ "śigā"), chicken (Amharic: ዶሮ "dōrō", Tigrinya: ደርሆ "derhō"), fish (Amharic: "asa"), goat or lamb (Amharic: "beg", Tigrinya በግዕ "beggiʕ"); legumes such as split peas (Amharic: ክክ "kik", Tigrinya: ክኪ "kikkī") or lentils (Amharic: ምስር "misir", Tigrinya: ብርስን "birsin"); or vegetables such as potatoes ("dinich", Amharic: ድንች "dinič", Tigrinya ድንሽ "diniš"), carrots and chard (Tigrinya: "costa").


Alternatively, rather than being prepared as a stew, meat or vegetables may be sautéed to make "tibs" (also "tebs", "t'ibs", "tibbs", etc., Ge'ez ጥብስ "ṭibs"). Tibs is served normal or special, "special tibs" is served on a hot dish with vegetables (salad) mixed in. The mid-18th century European visitor to Ethiopia, Remedius Prutky, describes "tibs" as a portion of grilled meat served "to pay a particular compliment or show especial respect to someone." [J.H. Arrowsmith-Brown (trans.), "Prutky's Travels in Ethiopia and other Countries" with notes by Richard Pankhurst (London: Hakluyt Society, 1991), p. 286]


Another distinctive Ethiopian dish is "kitfo" (frequently listed as "ketfo"), which consists of raw (or rare) ground beef marinated in "mitmita" (Ge'ez: ሚጥሚጣ "mīṭmīṭā", a very spicy chili powder) and "niter kibbeh". "Gored gored" is very similar to "kitfo", but uses cubed, rather than ground, beef.


"Firfir" or fitfit, (Ge'ez: ፍርፍር "firfir"; ፍትፍት "fitfit") made from shredded "injera" with spices, is a typical breakfast dish. Another popular breakfast food is "dulet" (Ge'ez: ዱለት "dūlet"), a spicy mixture of tripe, liver, beef, and peppers with injera. "Fatira" consists of a large fried pancake made with flour, often with a layer of egg, eaten with honey. "Chechebsa" (or "kita firfir") resembles a pancake covered with "berbere" and "kibbeh", or spices, and may be eaten with a spoon.


Tej is a honey wine, similar to mead, that is frequently drunk in bars (in particular, in a "tej bet"; Ge'ez ጠጅ ቤት "ṭej bēt", "tej house"). "katikal" and "araki" are inexpensive local spirits that are very strong.

Coffee (buna) originates from Ethiopia, and is a central part of Ethiopian beverages. Equally important is the ceremony which accompanies the serving of the coffee, which is sometimes served from a "jebena" (ጀበና), a clay coffee pot in which the coffee is boiled. In most homes a dedicated coffee area is surrounded by fresh grass, with special furniture for the coffee maker. A complete ceremony has three rounds of coffee and is accompanied by the burning of frankincense.

erving style

A "mesob" (Ge'ez: መሶብ "mesōb") is a tabletop on which food is traditionally served. The mesob is usually woven from straw. It has a lid that is kept on it until time to eat.Just before the food is ready, a basin of water and soap is brought out for washing one's hands. When the food is ready, the top is taken off the mesob and the food is placed in the mesob. When the meal is finished, the basin of water and soap is brought back out for the hands to be washed again.

Gurage dishes

Gurage cuisine additionally makes use of the false banana plant ("enset", Ge'ez: እንሰት "inset"), a type of ensete. The plant is pulverized and fermented to make a bread-like food called "qocho" or "kocho" (Ge'ez: ቆጮ "ḳōč̣ō"), which is eaten with kitfo.cite web|url=|title=Uses of Enset|accessdate=2007-08-13|year=1997|format=HTML|work=The 'Tree Against Hunger': Enset-Based Agricultural Systems in Ethiopia|publisher=American Association for the Advancement of Science] The root of this plant may be powderized and prepared as a hot drink called "bulla" (Ge'ez: ቡላ "būlā"), which is often given to those who are tired or ill. Another typical Gurage preparation is coffee with butter ("kebbeh").

The most popular Gurage main dish is kitfo. "Gomen" kitfo is another dish prepared in the occasion of Meskel, a very popular holiday marking the discovery of the True Cross. Collard greens (ጎመን "gōmen") are boiled, dried and then finely chopped and served with butter, chili and spices.


External links

* [ Ethiopian Restaurants: Worldwide Listing]
* [ Eating and Drinking in Ethiopia]
* [ Spicy Food from the Cradle of Civilization]
* [ Injera recipe] Injera is a traditional Ethiopian bread

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