Ethiopian cuisine and Eritrean cuisine characteristically consists of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of wat (or wot), a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 50 centimeters (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour. Ethiopians eat with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes. No utensils are used.
Furthermore, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church prescribes a number of fasting (tsom Ge'ez: ጾም ṣōm) periods, including Wednesdays, Fridays, and the entire Lenten season, so Ethiopian cuisine contains many dishes that are vegetarian (Amharic: ye-tsom የጾም ye-ṣōm, Tigrinya: nay-tsom ናይጾም nāy-ṣōm). This has also led Ethiopian cooks to develop a rich array of cooking oil sources: besides sesame and safflower, Ethiopian cuisine also uses nug (also spelled noog, known also as niger seed).
Types of Ethiopian cuisine
Berbere, a combination of powdered chile pepper and other spices (somewhat analogous to Southwestern American chili powder), is an important ingredient used in many dishes. Also essential is niter kibbeh, a clarified butter infused with ginger, garlic, and several spices.
Wat stews all begin with a large amount of chopped red onions, which the cook simmers or sautees in a pot. Once the onions have softened, the cook adds niter kebbeh (or, in the case of vegan dishes, vegetable oil). Following this, the cook adds berbere to make a spicy keiy (Amharic: ቀይ ḳey, Tigrinya, Ge'ez: ቀይሕ ḳeyyiḥ; "red") wat, or may omit the berbere for a milder alicha wat or alecha wat (Amharic: አሊጫ ālič̣ā). In the event that the berbere is particularly spicy, the cook may elect to add it before the kibbeh or oil so the berbere will cook longer and become milder. Finally, the cook adds meat such as beef (siga, Ge'ez: ሥጋ śigā), chicken (Amharic: ዶሮ dōrō, Tigrinya: ደርሆ derhō), fish (Amharic: asa), goat or lamb (Amharic: beg, Tigrinya በግዕ beggiʻ); legumes such as split peas (Amharic: ክክ kik, Tigrinya: ክኪ kikkī) or lentils (Amharic: ምስር misir, Tigrinya: ብርስን birsin); or vegetables such as potatoes (dinich, Amharic: ድንች dinič, Tigrinya ድንሽ diniš), carrots and chard (Tigrinya: costa).
Full article ▸