Vegan Ethiopian Food
To optimize enjoyment of plant-based eating, it is important to include variety and spice in your food. I find an exciting way to do this is to experiment with ethic dishes. A big favorite of mine is Ethiopian food.
Ethiopians do love their meat. However, being Orthodox Christians, they “fast” on Wednesdays and Fridays, consuming no meat, milk, cheese, or butter. As such, Ethiopian cuisine includes some very tasty vegetarian and vegan food – and they know how to do it well.
Teff – A Mainstay of the Ethiopian Diet
The food of Ethiopia is probably best known for the spongy sourdough flatbread called injera. It is a mainstay of the Ethiopian diet, a food that all Ethiopians, no matter what class or status, eat once, twice, or even three times daily. Injera is a sour and spongy round bread, made of teff flour, that is both vegan and gluten-free. Sauces, stews, and salads are served on top of the injera, which is then used as a vehicle to get the food from plate to mouth. This is very similar to how Indian chapatti is consumed. This bread can be darker and lighter, depending on the teff variety used. Teff or Tef can be ivory in color, or deep red, or deep brown, or deep purple. Injera has a very strong taste and texture — so when you like it, you love it, and it is very hard to put down.
Ethiopia’s cuisine is very similar to the food of its neighbor and rival Eritrea, which was part of Ethiopia up to 1991. Some of the country’s culinary style also reflects the influences of its neighbors like Sudan where the sour bread is called kesra. Italian colonialism up to the mid-1900s left a lasting impact on local food as well.
Berbere Spice Mixture Used in Many Dishes
Ethiopian food is rich with spices. Frequently used is berbere, a complex and fiery spice blend consisting of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, and fenugreek as well as lesser known African spices – korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, and nigella. Berbere is a key ingredient in the cuisines of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It may be available locally for you but I order it online.
Here are some vegan Ethiopian recipes that you can that you try. You can create a feast of these wonderful wats, or stews that will be served with the classic injera. All ingredients, including teff flour, are now fairly easy to find in stores in North America but can also be found online.
Plant-Based Ethiopian Recipes
(Click the links for the full Injera and Gomen Wot Recipes)
Here are three additional recipes for your Ethiopian Feast.
(Click each link for full recipes and instructions.)
This is a simple dish of carrots, yams, and cabbage.
This lentil dish is similar to a dal but flavored with the Ethiopian Berber spice.
Fresh, leafy greens compliment the wots and injera.
Putting It All Together
Lay one or more injera on a large dinner plate or platter. Arrange the yemisir wot, tikil gomen, Ethiopian green salad, and the gomen wat on top of the injera. Using your hands, a piece of the injera is torn off, used it to scoop food, and eaten.
It is important understand Ethiopian etiquette when it comes to eating with the hands. There is a code for eating with the hands that should be respected. One only eats their food with the right hand – and only the right hand. The left hand is reserved exclusively to assist with elimination.
Have fun preparing these wonderful dishes. Invite some friends over to share a fabulous meal! Be sure to let us know how it goes in the comment box below.