What is Ethiopian Food – Part One

cooking berbere vegetablesbeef tibs chilli berbere kibbehethiopian food recipes chicken doro stuffed berbere peppers

With a population of 80 million, up to 80 languages and a land mass of 426,000 sq miles (that is bigger than France and Spain combine), depending on which reports you choose to go with. 

Little as far as i can see is known about the fantastic food of Ethiopia. Yes, we do have pockets of expatriates spread around the world and yes these pockets of Ethiopian communities bring all their culture and flourish.

Let me re phrase the above… 'More' should be known about the fantastic food of Ethiopia.

The good news for vegetarians and vegans is that because of Ethiopia's strong Orthodox religion, fasting is common place within the country. Fasting in the sense of no meat and diary products not a full abstinence.
This being the case there are of course many dishes to fill this religious commitment.

Now i do not want all you carnivores to be clicking away to another page. Meat is very much on the menu.

I presume that if you are reading this, you either have some knowledge or a keen interest in the subject. That said if you are a Ethiopian master chef (or at least think you are) then feel free to read on but you and your status will probably not glean too much from this article. If on the other hand you wish to have a basic understanding of the cuisine then i hope to supply this to you.

As a main stay Injera is the food of choice. This flat bread with its spongy texture is generally made from Teff (flour). It has a slight sour taste and is high in iron.

Ethiopian food really starts with two main ingredients:
01 – Berbere. A red chilli spicy pepper mix.
02 – Niter Kibe. A spiced Ghee / Clarified butter.

Now i have seen many recipes to try and replace these two but they just do not really work. It is a bit like someone telling you to use processed cheese slices to make a good pizza. Maybe you will find these main ingredients hard to find but you can of course just make them. Videos for these and are below to show you how we also have many more how-to videos on Youtube and here: www.howtocookgreatethiopian.com/videos

Then follows several other ingredients, they include.

Mitmita is a hot bend of spices used to make Kitfo, that has a kick.
Mitten Shiro is seasoned ground chickpeas used to make a popular Ethiopian dish called Shiro.

Korerima (cardamom powder), used to make Kitfo, and to flavour some of wot (stew) dishes.

Beso Bela is used to make Niter Kibe (Ethiopian seasoned butter) dried; which is used to make Kitfo, and to flavour almost any kind of dish.

Koseret is used to make Niter Kibe (Ethiopian seasoned butter).

Mekelecha (Wot Kimem) is a special blend of 7 spices used to give the extra finishing flavour for most Ethiopian red wot (stew) dishes.

Paprika mixed with Berebre is used to give the extra redness to Ethiopian red stew dishes.

So now we have a basic knowledge of ingredients. In part two we will start on a few recipes and tips on how to cook great Ethiopian food.

See you in part two for Doro Wot, Tibs, Awaze, Injera and more delicious recipes and tips.

How To Cook Great Ethiopian – Making Berbere:


How To Cook Great Ethiopian – Niter Kibbeh: