Ethiopian Cooking – Impressions


Almaz Böhm about Ethiopian cuisine

Extract from her book „Kein Weg zu weit – Mein Leben zwischen Afrika und Europa“ (Please note: the book is only available in German)

In Ethiopia cooking is done by instinct. Recipes are passed down orally from generation to generation. This is how I learned to cook from my grandmother. But each preparation varies individually from woman to woman.

Our staple food is injera, a sour flatbread made of teff (a grain that exists almost exclusively in Ethiopia).  In regions where it cannot be grown for climatic reasons, we use a mix of teff and millet or teff and corn flour. Normally, injera is prepared for several days and kept in a large basket (mesob). Stews, so-called wot, in different versions, vegetarian as well as with meat, are served with this.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church requires – as most Orthodox Churches – its believers to renounce the pleasures of meat and dairy on Wednesdays and Fridays. On the non-fasting days of the year we do, however, love meat and even eat it raw. We have our meals together from a large, round tin plate covered with injera on top of which are placed small bowls with various wots. We don’t eat with knife and fork but use our right hand. Small pieces of injera are simply torn off and used to grab pieces of meat or vegetable and bring them to the mouth. It is considered very polite to put a portion directly into someone’s mouth (gursha).  In general Ethiopian food is very hot.