One of the oldest nations of the world, Ethiopia is an extraordinary country situated in the East of Africa (so-called the “Horn of Africa”). Its history spans across hundreds of years with archaeological findings dating back to more than 3 million years (such as Lucy, the oldest human ancestor ever discovered – put a link). Never fully colonized (though Italy made an attempt), the country has kept many of its cultural traditions, including its ceremonial ritual for making and drinking coffee (which was first discovered in an Ethiopian province).
As of 2018, the population is approximately 102.4M and the country’s official language is “Amharic”. Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion, with Islam coming at a close second. Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa means “New Flower” in Amharic, and inhabits only around 4.6M people. The majority of Ethiopians (some 80%) live in rural areas relying either on subsistence farming or on income from agricultural work.
Ethiopian cuisine is primarily made up of spicily conditioned vegetables and meat dishes. Lamb, beef, and poultry are common while pork is nonexistent as it is forbidden by the religious beliefs of Ethiopian Christians and Muslims. Christian Ethiopians fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, eating only vegetarian menu items. This is, in part, why there is an abundance of vegetarian and vegan dishes across the country. Ethiopians eat almost exclusively with their right hand, collecting ingredients with a torn-off piece of Injera (see below). It is also common for groups to eat together from the same large plate, often feeding one another.
Western food is available in several destinations, with Italian dishes (such as pasta and pizza) being the most prevalent. Fresh fruit is easily accessible by the many vendors selling recently picked produce along the main roads. In most cases, all food-preferences and allergies are accommodated. Please reach out to us with any special cases.
Below are a few signature items on the Ethiopian menu. Click or tap on an image to learn more:
A nutrient rich sourdough flatbread (with twenty times more protein than wheat) with a spongy texture. Injera is made from teff flour and is used as either a utensil or plate for many Ethiopian dishes (it's gluten-free!).
Bayonet is a popular fasting food comprised of a variety of vegetarian stews or salads served on a large piece of injera (such as lentils, cabbage, beets, and potatoes). The Injera’s porous texture makes it ideal for soaking the stew’s juices.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, which is referred to as “Buna” in Amharic. The word coffee is derived from “Keffa”, a former Ethiopian province where the bean was originally discovered. The preparation and consumption of Buna is done through a traditional ceremony involving the burning of the beans, grounding them and preparing them for drink while a fragrant incense is being burned.
A dish made of finely cut and fried meat. Tibs can be made of beef, veal lamb or goat meat and is typically served with injera. It is worth noting that Ethiopians enjoy their meat only lightly fried and on the rare side.
Tej means “honey wine” in Amharic, and is a fermented alcoholic beverage very similar to mead with a slightly bitter taste.
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