Ethiopian food – Introducing you to its seductive powers

Where is Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is a country located in the Horn of Africa, a peninsula in Northeast Africa. It's the most densely-populated landlocked country in the world, with around 88 million residents spanning about 80 ethnic groups. The origin of the coffee bean is in Ethiopia and some of the oldest evidence of humans is found in the country. Ethiopian food is one of the world's best kept secrets - unless you've already tried it and then you already know of its seductive powers.

What is Ethiopian food?

The country's fertile land and rich history lends itself to Ethiopia's distinct cuisine. Ethiopian food typically consists of meat stews and vegetables, served with injera. Injera is the foundation of Ethiopian food - a sourdough flatbread made from teff grass and used to mop up the meat and vegetables. Injera is often your plate, your utensils and your food base all in one. They look like pancakes and taste of sourdough bread. The stew eaten with injera is called wat, which is usually a spicy meat dish made with berbere, the chief spice blend used in Ethiopian cooking, or it can be a more simple vegetable stew made with lentils carrot, potatoes and cabbage.

What are some typical Ethiopian dishes?

- Doro Wat - a spicy chicken-based stew with a whole boiled egg - Shiro Wat - chick peas and Ethiopian butter help make this traditional Ethiopian Jewish pea stew - Kitfo - raw minced beef mixed with berbere - Gored Gored - similar to Kitfo except the beef is diced rather than minced - Derek Tibs - roasted meat charbroiled with peppers, onions and oil

What else do I need to know?

Communal eating is an important part of Ethiopian food culture, and you'll find that everyone eats from the same plate and diners will even feed each other, even in restaurants. Pork and shellfish are never served in Ethiopian restaurants because of religious influences. Many Ethiopians traditionally have meat-free days on Wednesday and Fridays.

Where can I eat Ethiopian food in the US?

Major US cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Seattle are abundant in Ethiopian restaurants, and yet some states have none. This website has an excellent guide of where to find Ethiopian food across America.