Ethiopian Cuisine Guide: The Best Ethiopian Dish To Try

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Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Ethiopian Cuisine Guide: The Best Ethiopian Dish To Try

People travel to Ethiopia to admire the incredible nature of the African continent, take photos of picturesque lakes, explore the fantastic reliefs of the Ethiopian highlands, drive through national parks to see rare animals, and have hundreds of other reasons.

As many intrepid travelers know, getting acquainted with any country begins with its cuisine. Once you have your Ethiopia visa, it’s time to dive into the delicious world of Ethiopian food — and in this article, we’ll go over the most common dishes, what to try, and much more.

What information is in this guide


Ethiopian Injera & Toppings

Injera is one of the most important traditional dishes of Ethiopia and is definitely a must-try when traveling through the country. Injera is a large flat bread made from teff flour and served on the table along with the main dishes. It is naturally gluten-free and full of nutrients and probiotics.

This flatbread has a very delicate texture and a slightly sour taste, which makes it an interesting contrast to pita or ordinary bread. Besides being versatile on the table, injera is also multifunctional. Ethiopians often utilize injera as cutlery by tearing off a piece, using it to grab food, and eating it directly — without needing a knife or fork.

Injera is not just a traditional dish but a part of everyday life and culture. The locals even have a greeting when they ask, “Did you eat injera today?” and if the answer is yes, it reassures the other person that everything is fine.


Doro Wat

Homemade Ethiopian cuisine

Doro Wat is a national dish that is a combination of tender and tasty meat with a mixture of different spices. This is the most popular meat dish in Ethiopia and is usually prepared by taking chicken and stewing it with spices, tomato sauce, and hard-boiled eggs.

The main secret of the taste is a mixture of spices, which usually consist of hot chili, garlic, ginger, rue, basil, ajwan, nigella, fenugreek, and others. The dish often contains more than ten types of spices, giving it an incredibly rich and piquant taste.

If chicken isn’t your favorite meat, Doro Wat’s delicious cousin, Sega Wat, is made from spicy beef.


We’re not done with meat just yet. The next dish, simply titled Tibs, is delicious fried meat cooked with spices, hot peppers, and sometimes vegetables. Beef is most often used as a base, but there are other meat options depending on your preferences.

The dish combines several flavors at once, including the sharpness of the peppers, the creamy, delicate taste of ghee (a type of butter), and fresh herbs that add juiciness and taste.

Tibs is a common dish that is served in almost all restaurants across Ethiopia, and it is usually the first dish that is made during festivals and holidays.


Thanks to firfir’s simple and accessible ingredients, it is one of the most popular dishes in Ethiopia. Firfir is served by taking a piece of injera and shredding it into smaller parts, then cooking with onions, tomatoes, spices, and garlic.

Some cooks may add meat to make it a hearty meal or change the ingredients to make it vegan-friendly. Firfir is quite versatile and a common staple for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast.

This is one of the few dishes in this region that is eaten with utensils, but some simply roll the dish into fresh injera.


Ethiopian food kitfo

Kitfo is a popular Ethiopian dish somewhat reminiscent of tartar, but at the same time, it has a unique Ethiopian gastronomic twist. The dish consists of freshly ground raw beef combined with spices, which are typically chili pepper, salt, and mitmita. The secret to cooking a delicious kitfo is to use herb-infused clarified butter, which is known as niter kibbeh.

The dish is served with injera and is usually an addition to the main course or an appetizer. While kitfo can be served on its own, it is often accompanied by cheese or fresh leafy vegetables.

Ethiopian drinks

The first thing that usually comes to mind when people hear the words Ethiopian drink is coffee — and they’re right! Indeed, coffee is considered the most popular drink in the country, especially since Ethiopians have been growing it for hundreds of years.

In addition to the fact that coffee is the main drink of locals, most of the Ethiopian economy rests on the export of coffee beans. In fact, about 60% of foreign income comes from the sale of coffee-related products.

Locals consider Jimma and Harar to be the best varieties grown in special conditions and have a pleasant aroma. One fascinating tradition is that coffee is served with popcorn in local cafes and establishments, so don’t be surprised if you get a bonus when ordering your morning cup.

Besides coffee, other popular drinks in Ethiopia include Tej (fermented wine with honey and hops), Talla (a type of sour beer), and local Ethiopian beers.

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