My Very First Meal in Ethiopia

By Mark Wiens 26 Comments
My first Ethiopian meal in Ethiopia
My first Ethiopian meal in Ethiopia

As I’ve mentioned a few times previously, Ethiopian food has been one of my favorite cuisines since childhood.

I actually remember my first taste, it was when I was about 12 years old in Kenya (I think, there have been a lot of meals since), and it was love at first bite.

From that moment I had wanted to visit Ethiopia, so finally 16 years later, I made it.

First meals in a country are always exciting – not only because of the food, but also because you are required to find a suitable restaurant, order (even if you have no idea what your’e doing), and then eat!

So there we were, wandering around southern Addis Ababa, looking for my first meal.

Peeking into the gate of a very typical restaurant in Addis Ababa
Peeking into the gate of a very typical restaurant in Addis Ababa

Most restaurants are surrounded by a wall and gate, but peeking inside I could see those yellow plastic tables, beer posters, and hear the tv’s (I think all Ethiopian restaurants have tv’s).

After a few moments of contemplation, I chose a restaurant that looked pretty friendly and in we went.

Outdoors there were the plastic tables, and inside, a dark cavern of men chowing down on plates of injera topped with a variety of meat curries.

Mahaberawi - mixed meat combination platter
Mahaberawi – mixed meat combination platter

Not knowing how or what to order, a man sitting next to the cash register graciously helped me and ordered, what was pretty much the thing everyone was eating: mahaberawi, a combination platter of various meat dishes.

I took my plate outside, and began to dig in ferociously.

The mix came with a number of different meat curries, to be honest I’m not even sure if they were beef or goat, potatoes, and even a small scoop of plain rice, all atop a blanket of injera.

Getting greasy towards the end, but so good...
Getting greasy towards the end, but so good…

I didn’t stop until I had polished off all the dishes and the injera foundation as well.

From my very first meal in Ethiopia, I knew it was going to be an amazing country!

Total bill came to 22 ETB
Total bill came to 22 ETB

A stuffed stomach and satisfied taste buds came to just 22 ETB ($1.15).

Many more Ethiopian food stores to come!

26 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Aleena

    6 years ago

    Hi Mark!

    I can’t believe that I have not found your videos/blog sooner! I stumbled upon your video when I was searching for a good Kuala Lumpur travel video to show my American friend who is now on her way to tour Asia. Reading your posts and watching your videos make me think that you are the twin I’ve never known to have! Haha! I love to eat and travel. I am very curious to know how do you keep your weight down after eating all that delicious foods?

    Anyways, I am based in New York. So, if you ever find your way here, I’d be more than happy to bring you around for a culinary joyride!

    Aleena

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hi Aleena, so sorry about the late reply, but thank you for writing, and for reading my blogs and watching my videos. It’s great that you love to eat as well. As for weight, I’m not totally sure, but I tend to avoid processed packaged foods and I usually don’t ever eat sweets. Would be great to meet you in NYC in the future. Thanks again, hope you’re having a wonderful day.

  • Zara @ Backpack ME

    7 years ago

    Food in Ethiopia rocks!
    I particularly like the vegetarian platters – I found it funny that they call those the “fasting platters” as if you weren’t actually eating them at all. On the contrary, so yummy! And less greasy than the meaty ones too!..

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Zara, haha yes I thought the same thing, I ate many a fasting platter, but I stuffed myself!

  • Gabriel

    7 years ago

    Yessss, I love eating with my hands! I went to an Ethiopian restaurant in the United States and got to do that and not be looked at weirdly for it.

  • Turkey’s For Life

    7 years ago

    Wow, the food looks fab – whatever type of meat it was 😉 – would have loved to try all that! And the price is great, too! 🙂
    Julia

  • Bama

    7 years ago

    Take the injera out, that dish looks very similar with what we have here in Indonesia. I guess this is another example of how we are all more historically connected to each other than we might think.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Bamam, yes good observation, I think it could be compared to a plate of nasi padang!

  • tim h

    7 years ago

    Nice. Love Ethiopian food. Cheap an excellent.

  • Sorin

    7 years ago

    To be honest I was a bit disappointed by the Ethiopian food. Injera did not like it a all; tibs were OK but not to be eaten daily and eggs for 30 days in a row. For a country with so many cows, the cousin in disappointing..

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Sorin, sorry you didn’t like the food that much. I loved it!

  • Anwesha

    7 years ago

    What is the injera made of? It looks like a browner version of the south Indian Appam.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Anwesha, it actually does remind me of appam or idli, it’s made from teff flour which is a grain similar to wheat.

  • John

    7 years ago

    That was really cheap. With all those stuffs in a serving, I think I will never go hungry in Ethiopia even if I don’t have enormous budget. It seemed that you’ve enjoyed your meal so much by the way you used your bare hands while eating. Looking forward to hear more of your Ethiopian food adventures!

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey John, there is plenty of delicious food to eat in Ethiopia, yup you’ll never go hungry!

  • Nash

    7 years ago

    The food looks quit a bit like Indian food, except for the Meat.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Nash, yes it does have some similar flavors and spices to it!

  • Mike | Earthdrifter

    7 years ago

    My first, and one of my few meals in Addis: Injera etc., was quite exciting as I enjoyed it immensely. After reading this I’m now craving Ethiopian cuisine. Ideally I’ll get there again.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Mike, glad to hear you’ve been to Addis. Hope you can return again!

  • Marta

    7 years ago

    Mark,

    You better explain about using hands in Ethiopia when eating Ethiopian food to people who are not familiar with this style of eating:-). We tried once Sushi style and not bad at all.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Marta, thanks, I will in some upcoming posts soon!

  • Juan

    7 years ago

    wow, only $1.15? Good. It seem the menu a little but same like Malaysia. And U eat your meal with your bare hand.. awesome.. 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Juan, it’s a good deal in Ethiopia. Yes eating with your hands similar to Malaysia!