Ethiopian Cuisine - New Beginnings

January 2021 is all about new beginnings for the new year. Part of DW new beginnings is trying new food and recipes. We have chosen four countries for January; Ethiopia, Korea, Lebanon and Venezuela.

I’m sure most of you are like me about Ethiopian food, not completely sure of the basics for this cuisine. We did some research for ourselves and for you to better understand the origins of Ethiopian Cuisine. We will be making some of these dishes throughout the month and we hope you are adventurous enough to also try out some of these recipes.

Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of vegetable and often very spicy meat dishes. This is usually in the form of wat, a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 50 centimetres (20 inches) in diameter and made out fermented teff flour. Ethiopians eat most of the time with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes.

A typical dish consists of injera accompanied by a spicy stew, which frequently includes beef, lamb, vegetables, and various types of legumes, such as lentils.

Due in part to the brief Italian occupation, pasta is popular and frequently available throughout Ethiopia, including rural areas. Coffee is also a large part of Ethiopian culture and cuisine.

After every meal, a coffee ceremony is enacted and coffee is served.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, Ethiopian Jews and Ethiopen Muslims avoid eating pork or shellfish, for religious reasons. Pork is considered unclean in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.Many Ethiopians abstain from eating certain meats, and mostly eat vegetarian and vegan foods.

Traditional ingredients

Bebere, a combination of powdered chili 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.

Mitmita is a powdered seasoning mix used in Ethiopian cuisine. It is orange-red in color and contains ground birdseye chili peppers (piri piri), cardmom seed, cloves and salt. It occasionally has other spices including cinnamon, cumin and ginger.

In their adherence to strict fasting, Ethiopian cooks have developed a rich array of cooking oil sources—besides seasame and safflower—for use as a substitute for animal fats which are forbidden during fasting periods. Ethiopian cuisine also uses nug (also spelled noog, also known as "niger seed").


Wat begins with a large amount of chopped red onion, which is simmered or sauteed in a pot. Once the onions have softened, niter kebbeh (or, in the case of vegan dishes, vegetable oil) is added. Following this, berbere is added to make a spicy keiy wat or keyyih tsebhi. Turmeric is used instead of berbere for a milder alicha wat or both spices are omitted when making vegetable stews, such as atkilt wat. Meat such as beef, chichen, fish goat or lamb is also added. Legumes such as split peas and lentils, or vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and chared are also used instead in vegan dishes.

Meat along with vegetables are sauteed to make tibs. Tibs is served in a variety of manners and can range from hot to mild or contain little to no vegetables. There are many variations of the delicacy, depending on type, size or shape of the cuts of meat used. Beef, mutton, and goat are the most common meats used in the preparation of tibs.

The mid-18th century European visitor to Ethiopia Remeduis Prutky describes tibs as a portion of grilled meat served "to pay a particular compliment or show especial respect to someone." It may still be seen this way; today the dish is prepared to commemorate special events and holidays.

Kinche (Qinch’e), a porridge, is a very common Ethiopian breakfast or supper. It is incredibly simple, inexpensive, and nutritious. It is made from cracked wheat, Ethiopian oats, barley or a mixture of those. It can be boiled in either milk or water with a little salt . The flavor of the Kinche comes from the nit'ir qibe, which is a spiced butter.

If you’re interested in finding out more, start there,

We hope you're open to new recipes as part of your new beginnings. Enjoy and happy cooking,


5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All