Cookbook:Cuisine of Ethiopia

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Cookbook | Ingredients | Cuisines

Ethiopian Dishes[edit | edit source]

Most Ethiopian dishes are based on berbere, powdered hot red pepper that also contains a variety of other spices. Spiced, clarified butter is also commonly used, as are a variety of other spices. Usually several dishes are served at a meal, and Injera, a flat, pancake-like bread is always included. Stew or "wat" dishes are the mainstay of Ethiopian cuisine. They can be meat, grain or vegetable based, and are usually highly spiced, but not always hot. Perhaps because Orthodox Christian Ethiopians traditionally eat vegetarian food twice a week, the cuisine has developed a large variety of complex vegetarian dishes. The following are some of the most common Ethiopian dishes:


Doro Wat - Chicken Stew is a popular Ethiopian dish, Doro Wat consists of chicken stewed in a red hot pepper sauce. The chicken is cooked until it is quite tender and served with the bones in. Hard-boiled eggs are included in the stew, pierced before cooking so that they absorb some of the sauce.

Siga Wat - Beef stew in hot red pepper sauce. The beef is cut into small pieces and stewed until tender.

Beg Wat - Lamb stew in hot red pepper sauce. The lamb is cut into chunks, sometimes with the bone in.

Kitfo - Raw, finely chopped spiced beef.


Gomen Wat - Boiled collard greens with garlic, onions and sometimes, ginger.

Mesir Wot - Lentils, usually cooked in hot pepper sauce. This dish ranges from hot to very hot. Lentils are cooked until they are quite soft and blend slightly with the sauce.

Shiro Wot - A stew made from toasted and ground split peas.


Ethiopians do not as a rule eat dessert, although restaurants sometimes offer them as a boon to their non-Ethiopian guests.


Tela - Unfiltered beer, often homemade. Beer in bottles is called "bira".

Tej - A Sweet honey-wine. It is often homemade and is of varying strengths, ranging from the very sweet and almost non-alcoholic "birz", to the stronger and less sweet true tej. It is available in bottles, but the taste does not match that served at home by an expert tej-maker.

Coffee - Coffee originated in Ethiopia and drinking coffee involves its own ceremony. Ethiopians hand roast their coffee, often bringing out a pan of sizzling beans so that their guests can smell the aroma. The coffee is then ground and boiled in a clay pot called a "jebena". The hostess will sit on stool in front of a low table and light chunks of incense, often myrrh. The coffee pot is left to rest until the grinds settle to the bottom. It is then poured into tiny cups and served with sugar. The hostess will make a second pot using the same grinds and the process will be repeated. Sometimes a third pot will be made. Coffee is served at any time during the day and almost always after meals.