An Introduction to Ethiopian Food
Ethiopia is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Indeed, it even has a case to be called the oldest, by some standards, as it is the country where scientists have found the earliest signs of human habitation. Although it often suffers from an unfair perception, today, it is still a culturally rich nation with plenty of positive aspects. Indeed, it is currently the fastest growing country in Africa, by GDP standards.
However, one of the things that Ethiopia is most famous for, worldwide, and rightly so, is its incredible food. The cuisine in Ethiopia is among the finest and most flavorful in the world, and it is rapidly gaining popularity in Europe and the United States. It is easy for one to get overwhelmed by the unfamiliar, and deep variety that Ethiopian food as to offer, though. For this reason, here is a beginner’s guide to Ethiopian food…
No matter which dish you decide to have, most entrees in Ethiopian food will contain a dash of berbere, an incredibly flavorful spice blend that is similar to many other Asian curries, but packs more of a punch. This lovely mix of spices includes ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, garlic, chiles, coriander, cumin, and cloves, among other things. Berbere is renowned for its complex flavor, which has an amazing amount of subtlety, despite its initial blast of spice. In Ethiopia, this is a very standard mix, and is certainly the most utilized seasoning in the country. As you are starting to try out Ethiopian food, make sure that you enjoy the delectable aroma and taste of berbere, as it is absolutely necessary to enjoy this ingredient if you are to continue.
Every food has a foundation upon which it is built. Many hispanic foods are built around the tortilla, while Italians frequently use some variation of pasta. In Ethiopia, this foundation is the injera, which is a keynote to almost every food that the country has to offer. Injera functions as a type of edible plate, as it is a very nutritional flatbread that is made from fermented teff grass. The flour that is made from teff grass is incredibly rich in multitudes of nutrients, such as iron and protein. Injera is a food that is at the base of most Ethiopian dishes, as many dishes are often served on top of it, or the injera is used to dip into several curry-like dishes. Essentially, injera is the healthier, Ethiopian version of naan.
Since the first meal of the day is breakfast, it seems a fitting place to start a descension into Ethiopian food. One of the most popular foods that is eaten for breakfast in Ethiopia is fit-fit, which is also popular in many Middle Eastern countries. This dish is very simple, but highly delicious, as it consists of scrambled eggs mixed with cooked tomatoes and onions, all seasoned with traditional Ethiopian spices. A similar dish to this is foul, which includes jalapenos and fried beans.
The most standard entree in Ethiopia is called a wat. A wat is a special kind of stew that is spiced with berbere. The meat of choice in this meal is then cooked with a type of spiced butter called niter kibbeh. A wat has the same benefit that stew has, which is that it can be anything it wants to be. You can cook in a variety of hearty vegetables, or even lentil and peas. One very popular type of wat is called doro wat, which includes marinated and rubbed dark chicken, as well as boiled eggs. It is one of the most popular meals in most western Ethiopian restaurants.
Tej (and coffee)
Most meals in Ethiopia end with the same thing (like dessert, but better). This thing is called tej, which is a delectable wine made from honey. It’s incredibly sweet, but not so sweet that it gives you a headache. The subtle hints of orange make tej an unforgettable experience. If not tej, a meal will still end with a drink ceremony, but one that consists of coffee, instead. Coffee is a huge thing in Ethiopia (which is a country that exports lots of coffee).
To learn more about how fast Ethiopia is growing check out this article here.