Ethiopian cooking can be heavy on meat — but the east African country’s cuisine is also full of delicious and super-satisfying dishes that are perfect for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten and lactose-free eaters.
Ethiopian food is probably best known for the spongy sourdough flatbread called injera, which serves as the “spoon” for lentil, bean, meat, and vegetable sauces piled on top.
Part of what makes Ethiopian food perfect for so many diets is that there's always a "fasting" (or animal-free) option: Many Ethiopians are Orthodox Christians and traditionally eat vegan on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as other special days.
So next time you eat out, order the bayenetu, a collection of meat-free dishes. And in the meantime, try a few of these delicious options:
Shiro is a delicious chickpea powder-based dish (sometimes also including lentils and broad beans), slow-cooked with Ethiopia's popular — and spicy — red berbere sauce. There are several kinds of shiro to enjoy, from the soupy thin shiro wot to the thick and glob-like (but still delectable) shiro tegamino. Try it out with this recipe.
3. Atkilt Wot
Gomen is made of collard greens and spices cooked to tasty perfection. Recipe here.
6. Inguday Tibs
7. Mesir Wot
Mesir wot is a delicious (and beautifully colored) combination of split red lentils simmered in spicy berbere sauce. (Depending on the ingredients, it may be look darker.) Recipe here.
9. Kik Alicha
10. Beet Salad
Buticha (front and center) is a chickpea dip mixed with lemon juice, good on its own and with injera. Recipe here.
Chechebsa, also called kita firfir (also called kita fitfit), is typically eaten for breakfast and is one of the rare Ethiopian dishes eaten with a spoon. Chechebsa is made of lightly fried injera or other bread cooked in berbere sauce and often served with honey. On the right it's pictured with eggs, which can be substituted out to make it vegan. Vegetarian recipe here:
13. Shiro Firfir
15. Timatim Salata
16. Ethiopian Pastries
Dessert is not a mainstay of Ethiopian cooking, though many Italian dishes like tiramisu and chocolate mousse have become incorporated into the cuisine. Instead, Ethiopians make cake-ish pastries that are not too sweet and range from doughy to dense. They are often fasting-approved, or dairy and meat free — so stay worry free!
17. Fasting Macchiato
Miriam Berger is reporting from Ethiopia as a fellow with the International Reporting Project (IRP).