17 Best Ethiopian Food Dishes to Discover

Ethiopian dishes are famous for their fiery flavors and the large number of plant-based food offerings.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Basic Information

Ethiopian Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Grains, legumes, vegetables, spices, meat.

Common Cooking Methods

Simmering, baking, boiling, stewing.


Breakfast, Appetizer, Dessert.


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Key Taste

Savory, Sweet, Sour.

Eating Etiquette

Serve food in communal settings; arrange food on large platters; use bread as a base for other food.

Meal Presentation

Treat elders with respect; eat with the right hand; wash hands before eating; share food with others as a sign of love.

Culinary Festivals

Christmas, Ramadan, Meskel, Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year).

Influence and Fusion

Ethiopian dishes are influenced by native ethnic cuisines as well as the cooking traditions of certain regions in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Origin and Region

Ethiopian Food: Origin and Region



Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

East Africa

Country’s Region

  1. North Ethiopia
  2. Central Ethiopia
  3. South Ethiopia
  4. West Ethiopia
  5. South Ethiopia
Ethiopia Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Ethiopian Food

  • Vegetarian Dishes

    Due to religious reasons, Ethiopian cuisine features many vegetarian and vegan dishes, especially stews, salad-like dishes, and sautéd dishes.

    Legumes and vegetables are the main ingredients of these dishes, ensuring high nutritional values.

    Vegetarian dishes are especially popular during Ethiopian religious occasions.

  • Stews

    Ethiopian stews are usually rich, hearty, and heavily seasoned.

    These stews are often made with meat or legumes.

    Bread like injera is the most popular side dish for stews.

  • Snacks

    Snacks in Ethiopia are mainly pastries made from wheat flour.

    These snacks come in many sizes and can sometimes have a rich filling.

    Many snacks are also breakfast dishes and street food offerings.

Ethiopian dishes are specialties prepared and enjoyed in Ethiopia, a country in East Africa. These dishes were created by the many ethnic groups that call this diverse country home.

Ethiopian dishes combine indigenous cooking traditions with culinary influences from many African dishes, Asian culinary specialties, and Middle Eastern delicacies. Due to religious factors, vegetarianism and veganism are very strong in the country.

Legumes, vegetables, and spices are used extensively in Ethiopian food, with many dishes having a spicy flavor. But meat is also a favorite source of protein; some meat-based dishes have unique preparation methods.

Read to discover the main characteristics, global popularity, and healthy aspects of traditional Ethiopian dishes. Next, I will describe the 17 most popular dishes in the country before covering factors that define Ethiopian cuisine and suggest beverages for pairing with local food.

Scroll down to learn everything about Ethiopian dishes!

Traditional Ethiopian food covers dishes that have long been prepared and enjoyed in Ethiopia. These dishes hail from the numerous ethnic groups in the country and showcase culinary influences from other parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Below are the main features of traditional Ethiopian food.

  • Wat: Wat is a category of thick stews in Ethiopian cuisine and can be made with meat or legumes.
  • Injera: Injera is a classic Ethiopian flatbread paired with many kinds of Ethiopian dishes, especially stews.
  • Vegetarianism: In Ethiopia, there are many fasting days due to religious observance that doesn’t allow the consumption of meat; therefore, plant-based dishes are very popular in the country.
  • Spicy Food: Many dishes in Ethiopian cuisine pack a lot of heat due to being seasoned with hot spice blends, such as berbere or mitmita.

Next, I will discuss the global prevalence of Ethiopian dishes.

Compared to more popular cuisines in the world, finding Ethiopian food outside of its home country might be difficult.

You can look up Ethiopian restaurants in major cities with diverse culinary offerings, especially in the US, which has the world’s largest Ethiopian population.

Searching for authentic Ethiopian dishes can be a challenge, but these specialties are famous for being healthy.

Ethiopian cuisine is generally considered healthy due to its balanced use of various ingredients and cooking methods. Here are some aspects that contribute to its healthiness:

  • Diverse Vegetarian Options: Ethiopian food offers a wide range of vegetarian dishes, with lentils, beans, and vegetables as the main ingredients.
  • Whole Grains: Injera, a sourdough flatbread made from teff flour, is a central part of most Ethiopian meals.
  • Lean Protein: When meat is included, it is often lean cuts like beef or lamb.
  • Spices and Herbs: Local food offerings are rich in spices and herbs that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Cooking Methods: Ethiopians prefer healthy cooking methods like baking and simmering, which help preserve the nutrients in their food.

Without further ado, I will cover the most popular dishes in Ethiopia in the next section.

17 Fantastic Ethiopian Dishes

Below are the 17 greatest dishes in Ethiopia. To help you navigate these dishes, I’ve arranged them from most to least common.

From national and fusion dishes to traditional specialties and street food delights, you will learn about them all. Don’t forget to use the interactive filter to make your experience smoother.

You can filter according to alphabetical sorting, main ingredients, taste, cooking methods, dish types, courses, and global popularity. Alternatively, search the dishes based on traditional, national, street food, exotic, and, most importantly, vegetarian options.

  • Ethiopia’s most popular dishes are widely recognized both within the country and internationally.
  • These dishes are available in various restaurants and street stalls, serving as the go-to choices for locals.
  • Ethiopian national dishes represent the country’s culinary heritage.
  • These dishes include the combo of injera and doro wat.
  • As national dishes, they embody Ethiopia’s culinary identity.
  • Traditional Ethiopian dishes are time-honored recipes inherited through generations since the country’s founding.
  • They demonstrate the diverse ethnic makeup and varied environments of Ethiopia.
  • Characterized by a unique blend of tastes and cooking techniques, these dishes are integral to Ethiopia’s culinary traditions.
  • Many classic Ethiopian dishes are free of animal products and highly suitable for plant-based diets.
  • Ethiopian street food is known for its convenience, affordability, and communal appeal.
  • Found in bustling street stalls and local markets, these food offerings range from savory snacks to sweet treats.
  • They offer a quick and delicious way to experience the flavors of Ethiopia in a casual, lively setting.
  • Exotic dishes in Ethiopia involve unique ingredients, unusual cooking techniques, or distinctive flavor profiles.
  • Notable specialties of this kind are kitfo and tere siga, which are both raw dishes.
  • These dishes provide an adventurous dining experience, often surprising and delighting those unfamiliar with the depth of Ethiopian culinary art.
Teff Injera


  • National
  • Traditional

Injera is a staple Ethiopian sourdough flatbread with an airy and spongy texture. Its main ingredient is teff flour, a type of high-protein grain that has been cultivated in the country since ancient times.

Injera has a uniquely tangy flavor and is cooked like a pancake on a large circular griddle.

As an essential dish in most Ethiopian meals, injera complements the variety of Ethiopian stews. People tear it into pieces, which they use as a spoon to pick up other food.

Doro Wot

Doro Wat

  • National
  • Traditional

Doro wat is a famous Ethiopian stew made with chicken, boiled eggs, and spices. Berbere, a classic spice blend widely used in Ethiopia, is a must-have ingredient.

This chicken stew is characterized by its thick, fiery sauce, which gets its depth from onions that are slowly cooked down. Locals traditionally serve it with injera on special occasions and holidays, such as Ethiopian Easter.

Interestingly, people often cut the chicken into 12 different parts when making doro wat and give them different names. For example, fereseya would be served to the host, and married people would eat the mequadesha.

Tibs Injera Served Siga


  • Traditional

Tibs is a popular Ethiopian dish that consists of sautéed or grilled meat, usually beef, lamb, or goat. The meat is typically cut into small pieces and cooked with butter, garlic, onions, and sometimes rosemary, giving it a fragrant and savory flavor.

Ethiopians usually serve tibs with awaze, a hot sauce based on berbere. Therefore, tibs can be quite spicy and is often served with vegetables and injera.

Asa tibs is a tasty variant made with marinated and deep-fried fish

Ethiopian Food Kitfo


  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Kitfo is a traditional Ethiopian dish made from raw minced beef. It hails from the Gurague region in Central Ethiopia.

To make kitfo, the raw beef is seasoned with mitmita (a spicy chili powder blend) and niter kibbeh (clarified butter infused with herbs and spices). Locals accompany it with injera and a side of ayibe (a mild cheese) or gomen (collard greens).

Kitfo is celebrated for its bold flavors and is normally eaten on special occasions, though many Ethiopian restaurants offer it as a delicacy.

Besides the classic raw version, kitfo is also available in medium-roasted and well-roasted forms.

Ethiopian Traditional Food


  • Traditional

Shiro, also known as shiro wat or tsebhi shiro, is an Ethiopian vegetarian-friendly stew made from ground chickpea or broad bean flour, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, onions, and berbere spice.

Shiro plays an essential role in Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. Its texture is smooth and thick, while its taste is rich and spicy.

Ethiopians enjoy shiro on many gatherings and religious occasions when they need to fast, such as Lent or Ramadan. The non-vegan variation usually contains butter and meat called bozena shiro.

Misir Wat

Misir Wat

  • Traditional

Misir wat is a popular lentil stew in Ethiopia. It consists of red lentils, berbere, onions, garlic, and tomatoes (optional), creating a thick, hearty, and spicy stew.

Misir wat is a vegetarian dish with a comforting flavor and high nutritional profile. Locals typically enjoy it with bread on fasting days, though many daily meals also feature it.

Crispiness Of Sambusa


  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Sambusa, known elsewhere as samosa or sambusak, is an Ethiopian pastry filled with a spiced mixture. It originated in the Middle East in the 10th century and was brought to Ethiopia in the 14th century through trade and immigration.

A typical sambusa consists of two parts: a thin, crispy pastry shell and a filling of finely chopped onions, lentils or ground meat (beef or lamb), and aromatic spices such as berbere or cumin.

Cooking sambusas involves deep-frying the stuffed pastries until golden brown, resulting in a crunchy texture on the outside with a savory, moist filling.

Sambusas are often served during special occasions and religious holidays as a starter, accompanied by various dipping sauces.

Ethiopian Platter


  • Traditional

Beyaynetu is an Ethiopian dish prepared by serving many types of vegetables, curries, and lentil stews on a bed of injera on the same platter. Its name means “assorted” or “various,” referring to its diverse ingredients.

The vegetables used in beyaynetu are often lightly stewed or sautéd and seasoned with fragrant spice blends. The tastes and textures vary across the platter, ranging from spicy and savory to mild and soft.

Beyaynetu is particularly cherished during fasting periods and religious holidays like Lent in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Because of its popularity, Ethiopian restaurants always include beyaynetu on their menus.

Yummy Shredded Injera


  • Traditional

Fit-fit, also known as fir-fir or chechebsa, is a traditional Ethiopian breakfast dish known for its spicy, tangy flavor and soft, moist texture.

Fit-fit is made by tearing injera into small pieces and mixing them with sautéed onions, berbere spice, and leftover stew (especially doro wat). These ingredients are simmered until the injera pieces are fully soaked with the flavors.

Many people enjoy fit-fit with extra injera on the side.

Gomen Is An Appealing Food


  • Traditional

Gomen is a classic Ethiopian dish consisting of collard greens that are slowly cooked down with onions, garlic, and spices, like ginger and turmeric. The greens become tender and infused with aromatic flavors.

Gomen can be served as a side dish or as part of a larger meal like beyaynetu. Its mild, earthy flavor and soft texture nicely complement spicy and robust dishes in Ethiopian cuisine.

Kik Alicha

Kik Alicha

  • Traditional

Kik alicha is an Ethiopian stew made from split yellow peas. These peas are simmered with onions, garlic, turmeric, and sometimes ginger until they reach a soft, creamy consistency.

This golden stew boasts a mild, subtly sweet, and savory flavor, making it a soothing counterpoint to the more fiery dishes in Ethiopian cuisine.

Tere Siga

Tere Siga

  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Tere siga, which translates to “raw meat,” is an Ethiopian dish made by thinly slicing or cutting fresh, lean beef into bite-sized chunks and serving them with hot sauces or spices, like mitmita or awaze.

Tere siga is especially popular among the country’s highland communities and is often associated with special occasions and social gatherings.

Legend has it that this raw dish originated in the 16th century when Ethiopian soldiers ate uncooked meat to avoid detection by the enemy, as cooking fires could give away their position.

Ethiopian Cuisine


  • Traditional

Genfo is a traditional Ethiopian porridge that has a thick, dough-like consistency. Its main ingredient is barley, wheat, or sorghum flour, which is mixed with water and cooked until it thickens.

Ethiopians mainly serve genfo with a well of clarified butter and spicy berbere sauce in the center. To make this hole, people often place a finjal (coffee cup) in the middle of the bowl.

Thanks to its hearty and filling nature, genfo is an ideal dish for breakfast or fasting periods, providing a high-energy meal.

Taste Of Fatira


  • Traditional

Fatira is a popular breakfast dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It consists of a wheat flour pancake or flatbread base topped with either scrambled eggs or honey.

Sometimes, fatira features both sweet and savory ingredients. Cooked vegetables are a popular addition to many fatira recipes.

The contrast between the crispy edges and the soft, fluffy center makes fatira a beloved choice. Beyond being a popular breakfast item, fatira is also a sought-after snack and street food offering.

Azifa Recipe Vegan Lentil Salad


  • Traditional

Azifa is a vegetarian-friendly cold lentil salad in Ethiopian cuisine. It is seasoned with a blend of lime juice, minced onions, green chili peppers, and a mix of spices, including mustard.

Azifa is characterized by its tangy and slightly spicy flavor profile, with a texture that is both creamy and crunchy. Locals typically serve azifa with injera or vegetables during the hot months and fasting periods.

Dabo Lolo

Dabo Kolo

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Dabo kolo, literally “corn bread,” is an Ethiopian dish made from a dough of wheat flour, seasoned with berbere or other spices, and then baked or fried until crisp.

Since dabo kolo is small and has a crunchy texture, many people describe it as the Ethiopian pretzel. Flavorwise, dabo kolo is spicy and savory, while versions enriched with honey are pleasantly sweet.

Dabo kolo is a popular snack, finger food, and street food during festive occasions, such as Enkutatash and religious holidays. Locals often wrap it in paper cones.

Himbasha Tender Ethiopian Flatbread


  • Traditional

Himbasha, also known as ambasha, is an Ethiopian sweet bread with a distinctive wheel-like shape and multiple decorative patterns scored on its surface. Think of it as a giant pizza without the toppings.

People flavor himbasha with cardamom, sesame seeds, and raisins or nuts. Himbasha is traditionally served during special occasions such as religious festivals, weddings, and family gatherings.

Now that you have learned about popular dishes in Ethiopia, I will go into a general description of this cuisine.

What Are the Main Features of Ethiopian Cuisine?

Ethiopian Cuisine
Vegetarian food is a mainstay of Ethiopian cuisine

Understanding the following six factors will help you make sense of Ethiopian cuisine.

Ethiopia’s location has made it a crossroads for trade between Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, introducing a variety of spices and cooking techniques from these regions to Ethiopian cuisine.

Ethiopia is home to varied landscapes, numerous climate zones, and various ethnic groups. These factors contribute to a diverse range of ingredients used in local cuisine.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, with its fasting periods and dietary restrictions, has significantly influenced Ethiopian cuisine.

For example, Wednesdays, Fridays, and the whole Lenten season are obligatory days of fasting, making meat-free dishes very popular.

Due to religious restrictions on the consumption of animal products on fasting days, there is a wide array of vegetarian and vegan dishes in Ethiopian cuisine. Vegetables, lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes are commonly used to prepare flavorful and nutritious dishes.

Many Ethiopian dishes are savory and spicy, especially meat-based ones. The fiery spice blend berbere is used to flavor many local specialties.

Ethiopians mainly eat with the right hand and use bread as a utensil to scoop up food. Meals are often communal, with dishes served on a large platter.

You nearly know everything to learn about Ethiopian dishes; read on for some excellent food and drink pairings in Ethiopia.

What Beverages to Pair With Ethiopian Dishes?

Ethiopian Dishes Pair with Beverages
Coffee is among the most popular beverages to pair with food in Ethiopia.

Below are the three most well-known Ethiopian beverages and the best dishes to pair with them.


As the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia holds this beverage in great esteem. Local coffee is often flavored with sugar, salt, or butter and served with snacks or light dishes like himbasha, fatira, and genfo.


Tej is an Ethiopian honey wine that can range from sweet to dry, making it excellent for accompanying rich and spicy dishes. My recommendations are doro wat, kitfo, and tibs.


Tella is a traditional Ethiopian beer made from barley, wheat, or maize and has a slightly sour and earthy flavor. Hearty and flavorful dishes like beyaynetu, gomen, and misir wat go well with it.

What do you think about my Ethiopian dish suggestions? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Before you go, please share this list of Ethiopian food specialties with your friends!

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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