Ethiopian Cuisine and Etiquette
Ethiopia’s remote topography protects its culture and cuisine
from outside influences, keeping it rich in tradition and
flavor. Unique spices, grains, and vegetables thrive in
Ethiopia’s highlands, with plentiful rainfalls and varying
climates. Special cooking methods and healthy combinations
of ingredients produce an array of vegetarian, grain, and meat
(although no pork) dishes.
Traditional Ethiopian meals are served on a common platter and
shared by family and friends. Typically, the meal consists of
various vegetables, meat entrées and side dishes It is our
custom to eat with the right hand, using a type of bread calledInjera to scoop and eat the food. Injera is a pancake like
sourdough flatbread, usually 20 inches in diameter and made
from fermented Teff flour. Injera is baked on one side and is
therefore porous on one side and flat on the other. The flat
side is placed in the palm of the right hand and the porous
side is used to collect food. For further instruction on how to
eat with Injera, please ask your server. Finfiné can also serve
your meal on individual dishes with utensils, if you prefer.
Another beautiful mealtime tradition is Goorsha, the act of
feeding a family member or dear friend. This action is a display
of affection, respect and honor. To perform Goorsha, smile
warmly as you scoop up some food with Ingera and gently place it
in your companion’s mouth.
Common Words Used in Ethiopian Cuisine
Alitcha (Stew) andWät
(Stew with Berberé [see below])
Meat or vegetables cooked over low heat in a covered cooking
pot for long period of time.
A red pepper paste made out of Berberé and red wine or Tëj
Ethiopian cottage cheese. This is a nice combination, which
helps to counterbalance spicy foods such as Wät and Kitfo.
A mild blend of dried ground chilies.
Coffee is as important to Ethiopians as it is to Americans;
perhaps more so. Ethiopia holds a credible claim to being
the birthplace of coffee, which originated in the native
province of Kefa, from which it derived its name. In
addition, highland-grown coffee is Ethiopia’s biggest export.
A light, slightly spongy, pancake-like sourdough flatbread
made out of Teff flour. The flour is mixed with water and
allowed to ferment for a few days. It is then ready to bake.
The pancakes are eaten by hand with all kinds of stews,
vegetable dishes, and stir-frys.
Ethiopian-style steak tartar is an integral part of Ethiopian
cuisine and can be sampled at upscale and reliable restaurants,
such as here at Finfiné.
A hot blend of dried ground chilies.
A clarified spiced butter infused with ginger, garlic, and several spices.
Tea is commonly grown in lowland areas of Ethiopia. Water is
brewed with a variety of spices and black tea, which has a
smiliar flavor as that of "Masala Chai" tea from India.
(Eragrostis tef, Poaceae)
A species of gluten-free grain native to Ethiopia. It is
similar to millet in nutrition and in cooking, but the seed
is much smaller. It is an important staple in Ethiopia,
where it is used to make Injera. Teff has been proven to
have high nutritional value.
A honey wine with a deceptively sweet taste that masks its
high alcohol content. You can experience this traditional
drink right here at Finfiné.
Tibs (Stir Fry)
Sauteed diced beef, chicken or fish (can be a filet as
well) and vegetables.