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Ethiopian cuisine

A Beginner’s Guide to Ethiopian cuisine

Ethiopian cuisine is a joy to discover for many reasons. Firstly, there are a wealth of vegetarian and vegan options, plus the main filler of every meal is traditionally gluten free, making it suitable for various dietary needs. Secondly, Ethiopian food is meant to be shared, with dishes served on one large platter and handfuls fed between guests in an sociable act known as gursha. Once you understand some of the basics, you’ll be ready to fall in love with Ethiopian cuisine. Here are some of the key terms you’ll need to know when starting out on your exploration of the cuisine.


Injera is the staple of  meals and you’ll definitely need to know what to do with it; many first timers make the mistake of treating it like a plate or tablecloth, instead of the integral part of the dish that it is. Injera is a large circular pancake made from teff. The source of starch is served with a range of stews, curries or vegetables on top, and you tear it with your right hand and use to eat the rest of the meal. You might find it sour tasting at first, but you should persevere as it will be served with most, if not every, Ethiopian meal.

Image by Mark Wiens


This dish is usually served at breakfast time and is made up of shredded leftover injera, mixed with either leftover wat or signature spicy berbere sauce. It’s the traditional Ethiopian way to start the day. Despite the fact that the main ingredient in fir-fir is injera, it’ll probably be served with more injera on the side.

Image by Mark Wiens


There are a lot of different options of wat – Ethiopian stew or curry – to try. There are many vegetarian and vegan friendly dishes like mesir wat, made with red lentils, and kik wat, with split peas. Shiro wat (chickpeas), otherwise known as shiro, is one of the most consumed wats across the country and features on almost every vegetarian platter. Meat eaters should try the classic doro wat (chicken), bere wat (beef) or beg wat (sheep) for a taste of the common flavours eaten in Ethiopia.

image by Robi Mengstab


This is a popular dish for meat eaters and is usually eaten as a celebration or commemoration of holidays and special events. Freshly sliced beef or lamb is fried in butter, garlic and other seasonings. Tibs are usually plated with chilli dipping sauces and rolls of injera or served as part of a larger meal with other vegetables and wats.

Image by Jean Rebiffé


Newcomers to Ethiopian food may be surprised to find this dish uses raw minced beef, in a spicy version of a Western steak tartare. The beef is marinated in a clarified butter called niter kibbeh and spices. It is served raw but warm alongside vegetables and soft cheese.

Image by Mark Wiens


Ethiopia is the birthplace of good coffee and, as such, it makes up a large part of the culture, especially if you attend a coffee ceremony. Here, the coffee will be made in a jebena, a traditional clay pot, and is often served at three different strength levels. You can mix the coffee with sugar/ salt and usually the ceremony includes snacks such as popcorn as well as the coffee sampling.


Ethiopian buna

Image by Ammar Hreib from Pixabay


Tej is a very popular Ethiopian drink – some consider it the national drink – and many households brew their own honey wine. It is best consumed after dinner, although be warned that the sweet taste can mask the high alcohol content. The best Tej can be found in the north of the country, where the highest quality of honey is sourced.

Image by Jenny Miller

Addis ababa day trips
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Amazing Day Trips from Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is a gorgeous city that is full of excitement and adventure in Ethiopia and visitors like yourself will find that it holds enough magic and mystery for a lifetime. I have spent many days exploring this majestic destination and have found that there are a couple of amazing day trips that you simply must take when you are in the area.

About me:-)

I’m a solo trveler that like to explore different cultures. And now for the 3 places that I likes the most:

Mount Zuqualla

One of my favorite things to do near Addis Ababa is hiking, which is why I chose to visit Mount Zuqualla. This mountain is an extinct volcano and that knowledge will make the area even more intriguing to you. The Zuqualla Monastery can be found at the top of this mountain and there is a lake nearby up there as well. I wanted to see as much as I could when I was there, so I tackled the four-hour hike to the top. I do suggest that you do not choose to do this as your very first hike ever, because it is a little challenging and you need to be in good shape if you want to reach the lake! Besides the breathtaking views, I managed to capture glimpses of the Colobus monkeys and Menelik bushbuck near the lake and those alone made the trek worthwhile.

Menagesha Forest

To the west of Addis Ababa is the Menagesha Forest and I chose that area for one of my other day trips during my visit. This also required a hike, which I did not mind, because it is my favorite way to explore nature and the great outdoors. Some of the trees within this forest are more than four hundred years old, so please make sure that you take the time to see them in between all the flora that includes heather, giant juniper, and giant lobelia. You will also see the Menelik bushbucks and Guereza monkeys as you are wandering through the forest. I took the time to see the abandoned sawmill before leaving Menagesha and I highly recommend that you stop at the Meta brewery for a pint or two while you sit near the waterfall. It was a fabulous experience that I would love to repeat sooner than later, and I know you will love it just as much!

Blue Nile Gorge

The Blue Nile Gorge is quite a distance from Addis Ababa, but the journey will be worth it when you arrive to see such a magnificent area. This gorge is huge, and it is one of the nicest ones in all of Africa. Most of the Blue Nile Gorge has never been explored, so there are many mysteries waiting to be discovered. I was able to get a ride down to the bottom of the gorge and the views along the way were incredible. There are two bridges that cross the river, but only the newer one is used by vehicles. The other is frequented by the shepherds that wander from side to side. You will find many other things to see and do in Addis Ababa and the surrounding areas, but these three day trips will get you started on some adventures of a lifetime. Enjoy every minute of your time in this area, as it will only continue to get better.

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