Cooking spotlight on Ethiopia: Deliciousness wrapped in injera


One of the oldest continuous cultures in the world and the only African country never to be colonized by Europe, Ethiopia or Abyssinia as it used to be called has fascinated the world since the days of the irresistible Queen of Sheba. Many believe she was from Ethiopia, or just across the Red Sea in present day Yemen.

These days, it’s Ethiopian cuisine that so many of us find irresistible. Spicy, flavourful and healthy, its partly influenced by its neighbours like Sudan and Eritrea, as well as Italy, which occupied the country briefly 75 years ago. Its delightful uniqueness however centres on injera, the spongy sourdough flatbread used to scoop up a variety of bean, meat and vegetable stews and sauces. Injera is naturally vegan and gluten-free, as are many Ethiopian dishes, making this cuisine a particular favourite for those with dietary restrictions and preferences.

Many if not most Ethiopian dishes are perfectly suited to injera, so forks, knives and spoons are rarely needed. It’s all about using your hands!

Here’s a rundown of dishes you’ll want to try out at an Ethiopian restaurant or in your own kitchen:

  • Shiro is Ethiopia’s version of curry, a chickpea powder cooked with spicy chili-based red berbere sauce.
  • Berbere sauce includes chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil and other delicious ingredients.
  • Wot is a stew or curry prepared with chicken, beef, lamb or vegetables, and fixed with berbere and clarified butter.
  • Atkilt Wot is a delectable cabbage dish mixed with carrot and potatoes in a light sauce.
  • Doro Wot is the most popular traditional dish in Ethiopia, made with chicken, and sometimes, hard-boiled eggs.
  • Azifa: A green lentil salad you can eat on its own or mixed in with injera.
  • Fasolia, whose name harkens back to the Italian that inspired it, is a salad made of string beans, carrots and onions.
  • Ful medames is a rich Egyptian dish popular in Ethiopia consisting of mashed fava beans, oil, cumin, parsley and lemon juice.
  • Sambusa, like middle eastern sambusak, is a fried dough pastry with meat or lentil filling
  • Chechebsa: one of Ethiopia’s traditional breakfast dishes and one of the few eaten with a spoon. Resembling a pancake, chechebsa is covered with spices and butter.

Coffee is also central to Ethiopian cuisine. In fact, it’s believed that drinking coffee actually originated in Ethiopia. Ethiopians partake in an elaborate coffee ceremony after meals, including espresso usually served with sugar or salt.

What’s your favourite or most intriguing Ethiopian dish? Care to make your own? Share your love and curiosity about Ethiopian cuisine in the Shop Talk Blog community forum!




Did you know: Gursha means love

Ethiopians often roll some injera and gently feed it to family or friends. Gursha, as this tradition is called, is a sign of strong friendship or love. (Source)

25 thoughts on “Cooking spotlight on Ethiopia: Deliciousness wrapped in injera

  1. I absolutely love Ethiopian Food! My hubby and I always get one of the meat n veggie platters with salad in the middle and a side in Shiro Wat and lots of enjera. My 2 little girls dig right in and test out all the dishes and then continue to eat whats not so spicy. We have been to a few different places in Toronto as we love the different ways and spices and uniqueness of each cook.
    A must-try-in-your-lifetime kinda-food!

  2. A few years ago, an Ethiopian friend of mine had me tried injera with lamb stew. It was really good I thought. Looking forward to getting more info on Ethiopian Cuisine.

  3. Oh Happy day! As I enjoy cooking based on African soups inspired with Peanut Butter including different Squashes & other spices I hope you will share with us. I am looking forward our communicating.

  4. I love Ethiopian food and have just tried to search a recipe for Atkilt Wot, but nothing comes up. How do I get the recipes you talk about?

  5. I have tried the real Ethiopian cuisine several times. It is truly a culinary experience — great flavours. I love injera.

  6. I love the blog about Ethiopian food good knowledge and if I ever travel there I’ll know what to order off the menue.


  7. It seems as if may like some of the dishes mentioned . We have a care worker coming in twice a week, I must ask her what meals she might recommend. Thank you for making me aware of this web site. Noel Potts.

  8. We are lucky enough to have had an Ethiopian restaraunt open in our town recently. It is such great food, fun to eat and an incredibly gracious hostess!

  9. I had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia many years ago. A most gracious people. The open market in Harrah had all the spices in baskets and everything very fresh.

  10. I haven’t tried any Ethiopian dish yet, but it seems that all the dishes are so tasty.
    I was wondering if there is any Halal Ethiopian Restaurant in Toronto

  11. Just got back from two months in Ethiopia in December. Visited and helped in schools in Bahir Dar. Then did a northern tour. Ethiopian people are hardworking, beautiful people. I feel privileged to have spent time with them!

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