What Is Ethiopian Food? Insights Into The Wondrous Cuisine!

By Mark Wiens 12 Comments

Ethiopian food, being one of my favorite all time genres of edibility, deserves a brief explanation of what it is, and what it includes (check out “The Bite Of Inspiration: My First Encounter With Ethiopian Food”).

Ethiopian food is typically an array of various vegetables and meat dishes concocted into creations of different stews and saute’s.  The stews are usually served on a communal platter on top of a bed of injera.  Instead of utensils, handfuls of injera are used to scoop up the vegetables and meats and the whole bite is consumed in a harmonious unison.


What is injera?

Injera is made from teff flour, a millet like grass that is native in the Ethiopian Highlands. The flour is mixed with water and ferments until made into a sourish, spongy, pancake, used to dip into various dishes.


Berbere is a glorious combination of spices usually including onions, ginger, garlic, salt, paprika, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, pepper and fenugreek, and then mishmashed together with oil and water to create a red paste. This extremely flavorful substance forms the basis of many of the dishes.

Niter Kebbeh

Is a form of clarified butter that is simmered with cinnamon, cardamon, coriander and turmeric and used in conjunction with berbere in many of the traditional dishes to create the signature flavor.


Wat in a western definition would be classified as a stew.  However, it is a complex, vibrantly colorful, and flavorful stew.  Wat usually consists of onions, mixed with berbere, and a single or combination of, meat, fish, chicken, vegetables, lentils, or chick peas to create an the array of dishes.


Tibs is another Ethiopian specialty of delicately saute’ed meat or vegetables.


Another wonderful addition to an Ethiopian palette is Kitfo.  This raw beef dish is marinated in a spicy goodness to create something truly splendid.

Some of my particular favorite dishes include, but are by absolute no means restricted to, doro wat, shiro wat, ground beef kitfo, and goat tibs (also called nayama choma).

However, I beg you, whatever you do, do not take my word for it, experience Ethiopian food for yourself!

Mark Wiens


The Bite of Inspiration: My First Encounter With Ethiopian Food

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

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  • vishal kaushik

    3 years ago

    Well done Mark. Thanks for sharing such a valuable content!!

  • Dana

    12 years ago

    I love Ethiopian food as well. I think I first discovered it in the early 2000’s in the city I live in (Calgary).

    In fact, I like it so much so that I make batches of their spice mixture — Berbere. It’s very versatile and can be used in bean, lentil & meat dishes. I make their spicy lentil (kind of a) daal every month or two. Crushed tomatoes, red lentils, berbere, water — there couldn’t be an easier thing to make. Easy and tasty.

    I should hit one of the Ethiopian stores in town to buy some injera before I make it the next time..

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Dana. Glad to hear that you also love injera! All those descriptions of Ethiopian food you mentioned sounds great. When I have some time I’m going to try cooking Ethiopian food too!

  • Joel

    15 years ago

    i am not embarassed to say, some days i eat ethiopian a couple time. DUDE the past few days whenever i feel like a hearty laugh and smile i come read these man………you are a glorius man with glorius ideas