Ethiopian cuisine is quite underrated and is a wonderful way to learn more about the country’s culture and history. Ethiopian food incorporates many aromatic spices and communal dining practices. It holds a special cultural significance that can be shared while enjoying a meal and will provide you with an exciting culinary adventure. Ethiopian food is quite healthy as well, and though there are many meat dishes, there are so many vegetarian friendly dishes that everyone will have something delicious to eat. Let’s dive into Ethiopian cuisines and savor the vibrant flavors the food has to offer.
One thing that makes Ethiopian cuisine stand out is the fact that it is so boldly flavorful, and often quite spicy. Spice blends that are commonly used include berbere, which is a chili spice mix, as well as the fiery mitmita mix that give many dishes their signature bold flavor. These spices are incorporates in wats, which are Ethiopian stews, that are commonly found in Ethiopian cooking.
One of the foundational aspects of Ethiopian cuisine is injera, an airy, spongy, flatbread with a distinct sour taste from its fermentation. Almost pancake-like, injera is made of teff flour and serves as a communal platter. You can tear off pieces to use to scoop up wats, salads, and other sides.
As mentioned, there is a wide variety of Ethiopian dishes both meat-based and vegetarian friendly. Commonly used ingredients include lentils, chickpeas, and vegetables. Doro Wat, is a delicious spicy chicken stew, and Tibs is a meat dish that consists of meat sautéed with vegetables.
Since many of the foods are served alongside or even on top of the injera, dining is often a communal experience. This is a wonderful way to gather family and friends together in order to share a meal and have fun socializing. It is a critical component of the dining experience in Ethiopia.
Ethiopian cuisine is closely tied to religious events and celebrations, and special dishes are prepared in honor of the festivities, including Timket, which is the Epiphany, and Meskel, the Finding of the True Cross.
Another critically important aspect of Ethiopian cuisine is coffee, as it is said that it is likely coffee originated here in the first place. Coffee is a ceremony here that takes place after the meal, roasting the beans in front of guests, then ground up and boiled with water and finally served in small cups. It is usually served with sugar and also often with salt. It’s enjoyed alongside snacks like popcorn or toasted barley.