Foods in Ethiopia: 13 Best Dishes and Drinks

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Foods in Ethiopia is part of the culture. It is the life and blood of every ceremony and every mourning. Ethiopian has been associated with poverty and famine, which has killed thousands in the 1980s. Many foreigners assume Ethiopia has always been in such a way throughout history. The reality is the famine that killed millions at the time was an intentional misguided policy that was aimed to weaken opposition forces in the northern part of the country. The plan was to cut the transportation of edible goods to and from the north. And the place where the drought occurred was on the way of the plan.

Food is a necessity for all human beings. It is a necessary part of life. It is a health and it is a definition of culture, especially for countries that have a long history.  It is one of the defining elements of society whether it’s a meaning about ourselves, and how we fit into the wider and broad culture. Depending on where people are located, what their type of ethnicity is food can be seen as a marker of difference. Cuisine can be a distinctive method of identifying certain types of clusters of people that have similar ethnicity, even though how the food is prepared still may differ because of geographical location.

Ethiopia’s variety of food can be frozen and classified with traits of spicy Foods in Ethiopia. As we go from national to regional levels the cuisine can be seen to be distinctive and a particular sort of national representation.

Traditional ingredients

Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of vegetables and often very spicy meat dishes. This is usually in the form of wat/wot, a thick stew, served on top of Injera, a Sourdough flatbread, (about 50 centimeters in diameter and made out of fermented Teff flour). Ethiopians eat most of the time using their right hand (also is a sign of respect to use the right Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopia to eat) form the served Foods in Ethiopia called Gebeta. The process is simple, it is cutting a piece of injera and dip it into the wot or roll the wot with the Injera before eating it, The Wot could be either beef, lamb, vegetables or various types of legumes, such as lentils.

In southern nations, nationalities, and people region the Sidama people also have additional traditional Foods in Ethiopia which makes use of false banana plant a type of ensate. The plant is pulverized and fermented to make various Foods in Ethiopia, including a bread-like Foods in Ethiopia called qocho or kocho.

Due in part to the brief Italian occupation, pasta is popular and frequently available throughout Ethiopia, including rural areas.

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“Kitfo raw beef sandwich AUD7 – Gibe African Restaurant” by avlxyz is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Coffee is also a large part of Ethiopian culture and cuisine. After every meal, a coffee ceremony is enacted and coffee is served.

Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopia and Beliefs

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church prescribes a number of fasting periods from any kind of animal products (including dairy products and eggs) on Wednesdays, Fridays, and the entire Lenten season, so Ethiopian cuisine contains many dishes that are vegan. This is remotely compared to the idea of veganism. Although the fasting even does not limit one only to eat vegetables all week, it encourages staying from it at least twice a week. Although many Ethiopians may not get enough calories of protein or even meat and poultry, the event supports the effort of many to stay in shape and stay religious as well.

Even having such a diverse collection of dishes Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, Ethiopian Jews, and Ethiopian Muslims avoid eating pork or shellfish, for religious reasons. Pork is considered unclean in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Many Ethiopians abstain from eating certain meats and mostly eat vegetarian and vegan foods in Ethiopia.

Like any kind of Foods in Ethiopia is prepared various spices oils and necessary ingredients are also used in Ethiopian dishes. Berbere, a combination of powdered chili pepper and other spices like an onion is an important spice used in many of the Ethiopian dishes. Mitmita, this one being a bit harsh and spicy than berbere is a powdered seasoning mix also used in Ethiopian cuisine. It’s an orange-red color and contains ground Birdseye chili peppers, cardamom seed, salt, and cloves.

What are Known Dishes in Ethiopia?

The national Foods in Ethiopia have a major character and defining element of Ethiopia because many of the countries share common dishes even though the process and ingredients might slightly differ.


It starts from onions chopped with large amounts, which then is sautéed in a pot. Once the onions have softened and the aroma has changed depending on the season cooking oil is added. After cooking these together berbere is added to give that spicy key wat taste. Depending on the season again meat like beef, chicken, goat, or lamb is also added. Legumes like lentils split peas vegetables like potato, carrots and chard are also used in the fasting season or as a side dish.

The variation of how the wot is named is by appending the main ingredient to the type of wot it is. Using lentil as the main ingredient we call it misir wot for potato its denich wot, for beef like lamb and goats its sega wot, and the most famous chicken is considered a national dish is Doro wot.

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“Fassil, Ethiopian Restaurant, Vancouver – 2” by nep is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 


Tibs is a dish found all around the world which is basically made by frying beef with vegetables, in Ethiopia though it is served in a variety of manners, and can range from mild to hot and contain no to little vegetables

Raw meat

This particular dish is very uncommon to see elsewhere in the world because it’s mostly considered unhealthy or too hard for the human body to digest. But this meal has been in Ethiopia for many generations and will continue for generations to come. This meal has no complexities it’s just raw meat usually of an ox and is served with spicy sauces like awaze, powdered mitmita, senafich.

Regional dishes differ mainly because of their ingredients and how it’s made. They also differ as Oromo dish, Gurage dish, Amhara dish, South Nation and Nationalities dish, Tigray dish, and many other dishes.

Southern nation and nationalities and sidama – The cuisines of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Region, and the Sidama people also make use of the false banana plant, a type of ensete. The plant is pulverized and fermented to make various Foods in Ethiopia, including a bread-like Foods in Ethiopia, called qocho or kocho , which is eaten with kitfo. The root of this plant may be powdered and prepared as a hot drink called bulla, which is often given to those who are tired or ill. Another typical Gurage preparation is coffee with butter. Kita herb bread is also baked.

Oromo dishes – here the dishes are similar to the dishes served around Ethiopia but somehow different in how they are prepared and some additional ingredients. Anchotte, Baduu (ayibi), Chechebsa made of flatbread torn into pieces the mixed with a bit of a spicy sauce the either has butter or vegetable oil, Chuuco also known as besso that has a sweet flavor of whole-grain seasoned with butter and spices.

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“Tef platter with lamb shiro and beef kitfo” by Joel Abroad is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Gurage dish – Kitfo is another distinctive Ethiopian dish many people from around the world have enjoyed eating. It consists of raw beef sliced into very small pieces mince marinated in mitmita and butter. Ayibe is a white color cottage cheese that has a mild and crumbly taste.

It’s often served as a side dish to soften the effect of spicy foods in Ethiopia. It is mostly served with Kitfo and distinctly makes it Gurage dish. Gomen kitfo is also another distinct Gurage dish made of collard green boiled then dried and finely chopped served with butter, chili and spices. It’s mostly prepared for the meskel season a very popular holiday nationally but is celebrated big and large through the Gurage people.

What Foods in Ethiopia Are for Good for Breakfast?

Widely in Ethiopia, the traditional dishes are often served to start from lunchtime onward. The meals before then like breakfast are often light and easy to digest. Fit-fit or fir-fir is the most common breakfast dish served nationally, it’s made of shredded injera fried with spices or wat. Another famous dish is fatira made of large fried pancake made with flour, sometimes with a layer of egg stirred in honey. Chechebsa is similar to a pancake covered with spices mostly berbere and in some cases, mitmita is used and butter with other spices on top. Genfo is a porridge that is usually served in a large bowl filled with spiced butter at the center like a small eatable volcano.

Foods in Ethiopia

According to local interpretation grains like barley, wheat, teff, maize, and zengada/masella are the predominant constituents of the Ethiopian indigenous diet. Most of which have heavy carbohydrate content making them very filling meals. Injera most of which is consumed on a daily basis around the urban and developed parts. In rural areas, wheat bread commonly called qitta is an important element in daily diet.

The distinction of high/rich and low/poor Ethiopian cuisine is maintained through unequal access to resources like Food in Ethiopia in Ethiopia, exotic ingredients, time along with the skill to produce certain types of dishes.

The differences in high and low cuisine Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopias is mostly because of economic status. So, in some places, the distinction is not only based on the types of dishes served but also on each dish’s quality and attention to detail given. In most parts of Ethiopia wealth is not seen as much so the classification really has a gap on how the dishes are provided and served.

When Do Ethiopians Have Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopia in Ethiopia?

In almost all parts of Ethiopia, there are 3 main eating times, morning breakfast (kurs), lunch (mesa), dinner (erat). But there is also a snack time in-between lunch and dinner which is mostly not counted as the fourth time of eating because it isn’t considered as a heavy meal. But snacks in Ethiopia have very commonly eaten throughout the day in-between meals, before coffee ceremonies like Dabo Kolo, Koloo popcorn are the common ones.

Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopia in Ethiopia And Social Bond

Ethiopian Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopia is not only defined by the way they are prepared but also how they are consumed. Gursha is an act where people show friendship and love when eating with family or friends where one feeds others in the group. Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopia is not the only thing defining Ethiopia as a loving country but the way people act together and show respect for elders is basically how the Ethiopian community survives.

Drinks and beverages

Ethiopia is not only famous for the spiced-up Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopia we eat but also our beverages both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that have a very potent effect on the community and how it functions. Traditional alcoholic beverages like Tella which is basically a home-brewed beer made from barley and Gesho for fermenting the barely and is commonly served during holidays.

“Kitfo” by Charles Haynes is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Tej is potent honey wine with a light yellow color having a sweet taste at first but when stored for some time it ferments more and so the higher the alcohol content and a stronger taste, Areki is so far the strongest alcoholic drink in Ethiopia making it a drink for elders that can handle the effects. Non-alcoholic beverages which include natural and healthy ingredients like Kenetto which also goes by another name of Keribo is a non-alcoholic drink used for those who won’t drink alcoholic drinks as a substitute for Tella and Tej. Borde common around southern Ethiopia it’s a cereal-based traditional fermented beverage.

These are the cold drinks that are prepared, on the other hand, there are non-alcoholic hot drinks like Atmet given to women who are nursing, the sweet taste and softens makes it comforting to drink. It’s a barley and oat flour-based drink that’s cooked with water sugar kibe which is placed on a stove and has to continuously be stirred until it forms a mixture slightly thicker than egg-nog. Coffee –Ethiopia is considered to be the origin coffee and humankind, a key national beverage that has such a huge impact on society and commerce.

The coffee ceremony is of the most traditional ceremonies celebrated throughout Ethiopia starting from roasting the coffee in front of the guests to walking around wafting the smoke throughout the room so the guest can sample the scent of coffee being prepared afterward being ground in a traditional way which requires a metal bar and a wooden pot. The coffee is then put into the jebena, boiled with water, and when ready is set to cool and condense the coffee particles then poured into small cups called Cini and is served to the guest usually with sugar and some may prefer salt and butter.

Do you Have Tips for Having Ethiopia Food?

If it is your first time Having Foods in Ethiopia, then you really need to be more careful in some areas. Although Ethiopian food is one of the friendly foods for the body, taking in excess could give you discomfort.

You usually pay a fixed amount of money, but sometimes hotels may push you to taste more. ( it is a kind of culture for a host to ask for more). Eat slow and small.

Tej is not your everyday beer. It is one of these drinks that you would not know that you drink until you leave your seat. Its sweet taste may confuse some for a low alcohol drink. Drink small. Or suffer the hangover.

Some foods in Ethiopia are spicy. It doesn’t mean it would be hard to eat. Many hotels make them less spicy, and yet you would feel the burn. Mix your food with the nonspicy. Go for variety, not quantity.

Avoid eating in small business areas( although they could be clean and well-cooked foods). Choose well-established places, such as traditional places or hotels or high-quality restaurants in a local standard. This may seem harsh advice. But it saves you a lot of time and health issues.


Ethiopia has a lot of diverse Foods in Ethiopia in Ethiopia and drinks many of which even the local nationals don’t recognize much and this factor has inhibited these dishes from becoming a national dish which you can’t find everywhere. This is my consideration has halted the growth of these tasty dishes to develop further but what is happening now is the adaptation of western and eastern Foods in Ethiopia more than the traditional elements. This being said the incorporation of better ways of producing and making traditional Foods in Ethiopia should be widely considered throughout the country.

Cover: “Kitfo (raw spiced beef) with collards, cheese, and injera” by Joel Abroad is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0  ( Color edited)

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