Ethiopian cuisine is one of the most distinct in Africa and offers flavor profiles that aren’t often encountered in other foods. Accordingly, a trip to Ethiopia wouldn’t be complete without sampling the delicious food available. Here are 10 Ethiopian dishes you have to try the next time you are in the country.
It would be hard to dine out in Ethiopia without running into injera. It’s a flatbread made from teff that’s fermented with water for several days. It’s usually served with a lot of other food and is very filling. To eat with it, just tear a piece off, grab your food, roll it up, and repeat.
Wat is a typical Ethiopian stew that comes in all kinds of varieties. It starts with onions, spices and clarified butter, and is then cooked down with vegetables or meat to make a stew. You’ll usually find them separated on a large platter.
Kitfo is similar to tartare or carpaccio and is made with minced raw beef. It’s tossed in some spicy sauces and is eaten with injera.
Shiro is made out of milled chick peas, appropriately spiced with berbere, then slowly cooked down to a thick soup. It’s a great way to start the meal, and if you like Indian dal soup, you’ll probably dig this, too.
Enjoy collard greens? If so, you’re probably going to love gomen. It’s usually more finely chopped than typical soul food-style greens and is of course mixed with traditional Ethiopian spices.
Ayibe is a cottage cheese with a texture profile closer to feta cheese. Although it doesn’t have much taste on its own, you’ll probably need to use it to cool down a few spicy dishes during your food journey.
If you’re a bit squeamish about eating the kitfo, go for tibs. Tibs are usually made from marinated beef, lamb, goat ( oreven fish) and served with vegetables. It’s served sizzling in a pot, similar to how you would expect fajitas to be served. If you’re a big meat fan, you definitely have to try tibs.
If you want to spice it up, go for some fit-fit. It’s made with a version of clarified butter called niter kibbeh along with a spice mixture called berbere, then usually combined with either injera or kitcha (pictured above). While it’s usually served at breakfast, you can find it served at other times of the day, too. Go for a side of yogurt if you find it too potent.
Similar to the Indian samosa, sambusas are delicious crispy pastries that are filled with meat or vegetables (often lentils in Ethiopia). While you can order them in a lot of restaurants, they are often reserved for eating during Ramadan.
While some may argue about whether coffee is technically a food, we’re going to include it, as the Ethiopian version is so delicious. If you can, try to have a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. And if you are traveling to Addis, be sure to hit up Tomoca, the oldest coffee roaster in the city.
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This article was originally published on May 26, 2015.