Ethiopian Cuisine consists of vegetables and often very spicy meat dishes, usually in the form of wot— a thick stew, served atop injera which is a large spongy flatbread about 20 inches in diameter.
Injera is a bread made out of fermented teff flour which is a millet like grain. Many people who are gluten intolerant have no problems with injera made from teff.
Ethiopians eat exclusively with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes. Utensils are rarely used with Ethiopian cuisine.
At Dessie Ethiopian Restaurant and Market we have several varieties of injera (including sergana teff injera and taam yalew ingera) made in part or all with teff flour.
According to some sources, coffee (buna) holds a legitimate claim as originating from Ethiopia where it is a critical component of the economy and is a central part of Ethiopian beverages.
The coffee ceremony is the traditional serving of coffee, usually after a big meal. It often involves the use of a jebena a clay coffee pot in which the coffee is boiled. The preparer roasts the coffee beans right in front of guests, then walks around wafting the smoke throughout the room so participants may sample the scent of coffee. Then the preparer grinds the coffee beans in a traditional tool called amokecha. The coffee is put into the jebena, boiled with water, and then served with small cups called si'ni. Coffee is usually served with sugar, but is also served with salt in many parts of Ethiopia. In some parts of the country, niter kibbeh (seasoned, clarified butter ) is added instead of sugar or salt.
Snacks, such as popcorn or toasted barley or kollo, are often served with the coffee. In most homes, a dedicated coffee area is surrounded by fresh grass, with special furniture for the coffee maker. A complete ceremony has three rounds of coffee (Abol, Tona and Bereka) and is accompanied by the burning of frankincense. If the guest declines coffee, tea (shahee) will be most likely served.
Wots are different from stews of other cultures in the method used for cooking. Beginning with chopped onions that are slow cooked in a dry skillet until much of their moisture is gone, fat is than added and the onions and other aromatics are sautéed before the addition of other ingredients. This method causes the onions to break down and thicken the stew. Each variation of wot is named by appending the main ingredient to the type of stew. Kik Alecha Wot is a mildly spiced spit pea stew and Doro Wot a very spicy chicken stew.
When the dish is tibs than meat has been sautéed along with vegetables. The dish is served in a variety of manners and can range from hot to mild or contain little to no vegetables. There are many variations of tibs, depending on type and size or shape of the cuts of meat used.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church prescribes a number of fasting periods, including Wednesdays, Fridays, and the entire Lenten season; so Ethiopian cuisine contains many dishes that are vegan. In adherence to strict fasting, Ethiopian cooks have developed a rich array of cooking oils to substitute for animal fats which are forbidden during fasting periods. Besides sesame and safflower Ethiopian cooking also uses nug (niger seed) oil. Many Ethiopian dishes are cooked with spiced butter also called niter kibbeh and similar to ghee where spices such as fenugreek, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg are simmered together with butter. These are than strained out and the resulting butter has a distinct spicy aroma and taste
The Omo river’s course is contained entirely within the boundaries of Ethiopia and empties into Lake Turkana (formerly known as Lake Rudolf). The lake's far northern end is located in southern Ethiopia. Lake Turkana is both the world’s largest permanent desert lake and the world’s largest alkaline lake.