Ethiopia is on our radar.
We often think Ethiopia when we drink specialty coffee since this country is one of the key producers of high-quality, single-origin coffee beans. However, our fascination with Ethiopian cuisine started years ago when we each ate Ethiopian food for the first time.
Ironically, we didn’t share our initial Ethiopian meals together. Daryl enjoyed his at an Ethiopian restaurant in Philadelphia while Mindi ate hers in Washington, DC. However, we were both highly impacted by our meals.
First and foremost, Ethiopian food appealed to us with its bright colors and spicy flavors. However, the dining experience is what impacted us most.
Though novices to the cuisine, our naivety about items on the Ethiopian food menu didn’t matter. Ethiopian meals are a family affair. We let our friends order food which everybody shared.
And the best part? We were able to use Ethiopian bread in lieu of utensils.
Ethiopia Food Favorites
Now that we travel the world in search of unique food, we’re keen to visit Ethiopia. Beyond experiencing one of the cradles of human history, we can’t wait to eat all the food starting with savory dishes all the way to Ethiopian desserts.
Without a doubt, we’ll visit an Ethiopian coffee plantation and delve into the history of arabica coffee. We’ll also shop at local markets in the countryside and eat Ethiopian street food in Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital.
We’ve already done our research and know that it’s important to plan ahead and arrange an e-visa. Completing an Ethiopia visa application online is easy, plus most major airlines fly to the capital city. Heck, maybe we’ll even use frequent flyer miles when we book our flights.
Once we finalize timing and logistics, these are the Ethiopian foods we want to try first:
1. Injera (Ethiopian Bread)
As bread lovers, we fully relate to a country that treats bread like a national treasure. It’s one of many reasons why we adore France.
In Ethiopia, Injera is an integral part of every meal. The spongy, fermented bread is literally the base of many dishes, acting as a conduit for meats, vegetables and sauces.
However, the best part of Injera is that it doubles as a spoon. Across Ethiopia and at Ethiopian restaurants around the world, diners pull off pieces of Injera to scoop up mouthfuls of tasty morsels.
As a bonus, Injera bread is vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. Though we don’t fit into any of these dietary categories, we fully support the Ethiopian bread’s versatility.
2. Mixed Platters
We typically want to taste multiple dishes when we travel, which means that we often share dishes between the two of us. This approach won’t be a problem in Ethiopia where mixed platters include a selection of Ethiopian dishes and are meant to be shared.
As carnivores, we’ll order various versions of Muheberawi platters since these include meats like beef, chicken, lamb and goat. We also want to try Yetsom Beyaynetu platters that feature a melange of vegetables and lentils.
Regardless of our choice between meat or veggies, we’ll thoroughly enjoy Injera bread both as a utensil and starch. As previously mentioned, we love bread.
3. Doro Wat (Chicken Stew)
From Khao Soi in Chiang Mai to Cholent in Budapest, we’re suckers for slow-cooked foods heavy on both tradition and flavor. Doro Wat, the popular Ethiopian chicken stew fits the bill on both counts.
This Ethiopian traditional dish features chicken, garlic, onions and hard-boiled eggs. However, the inclusion of Berbere, a special spice blend, adds the signature flavor to the country’s most famous dish.
If you’re not familiar with Berbere, the spice mixture includes chili peppers, garlic, ginger and basil plus an assortment of spices indigenous to Ethiopia. Although Ethiopian chefs often use Berbere when cooking, Doro Wat is the most famous Ethiopian dish to feature this unique tongue-tingling blend.
4. Kitfo (Raw Beef)
5. Ethiopian Spices
Ethiopian cuisine embraces a variety of spices and herbs to achieve its bold, bright flavors. Popular spices include Korarima (cardamom) and Abish (fenugreek) but Ethiopian spice options are extensive enough to fill a rack. Locals can buy an array of spices at local markets throughout the country.
In Ethiopia, it’s typical for chefs to mix spices with red chilis to create blends like hot Berbere and even hotter Mitmita, both mentioned above. Just like spices, red chili peppers are readily available at Ethiopian markets.