Meat is a huge part of the diet for Addis dwellers, although it is somewhat less common in rural areas. People in Ethiopia love their meat, and if they can afford it Ethiopians eat meat at every meal. The only exception are ‘fasting days’ when Orthodox Christians abstain from meat and dairy. You can read more about ‘fasting’ here.
But even on these days carnivores can still find places serving meat without looking too far. Sheep and goats (and occasionally a chicken or a cow) are seen traversing their way through the busy streets of Addis, so you more or less know what’s on the menu here. It’s also difficult to go more than a block without seeing cow carcasses hanging in the street-front butcher shops. But don’t worry — it’s up there to show you just how fresh it is.
Wot is Ethiopia’s version of curry. It’s a stew-like dish served over and eaten with, you guessed it, injera. Wot is the most widely eaten dish in Ethiopia and there are many variations. Wots are named for the meat and/or veggies in them, so just saying “wot” isn’t specific enough when ordering at a restaurant.
All wots are made from a base of stewed onions – a ridiculous amount of onion, in fact. We’re talking a kilo per wot, all simmered for two hours until they are nice and softened. A general batch of wot will feed between 6 and 8 people.
Doro, meaning chicken, is the meat in this wot and it’s basically the only dish in Ethiopian cuisine which uses poultry. Doro wot is an Easter specialty eaten at the end of a 55 day fasting period for lent. After the onions are simmered in kibbeh (spiced butter — see the spices, sauces & other page) more butter is added, followed by garlic, ginger and lots of berbere. Raw chicken is added to the stew along with enough water to cover everything. The stew is then simmered and, just when the dish is almost finished, the chef tosses in boiled eggs. Three to four hours later – voila! – you have Doro wot.
Ethiopians are very proud of their Doro wot and most believe that it should only be eaten in one’s home due to the intensive preparation and care this dish requires. In other words, eating Doro wat in a restaurant is uncommon if not straight up blasphemous. However, after enough taste testing – tough work, we know – we have found a few spots where it is made just right, as if home cooked by grandma.
Kai, meaning red, is the main identifier of this dish. Usually made with lamb – although sometimes substituted for goat or cow – this is a spicy stew found in most restaurants. After sautéing onions, garlic, ginger, butter and berbere, the lamb is added, leaving much of the meat on the bone for added flavor. By the way, it’s perfectly okay to pick up the bone and gnaw on it!
Aliche wot is a mild version of kai wot, that is particularly fragrant and often loaded with ginger. This dish is prepared the same as Kai wotexcept that turmeric is used in place of berbere as the main spice.
Tibs are the go to meat dish here in Ethiopia. Whether made from beef (most common), goat or lamb they are succulent, tender, juicy and flat out delectable!
Rather than doing the work of cutting up a steak – remember Ethiopians generally don’t use utensils – tibs is a dish where all of the work is done for you. Small pieces of meat, about the size of a grape, are sautéed in butter with onions, garlic, hot pepper and a bit of rosemary. The meal is served with lots of injera.
There are also a few variations. Zilzil tibs are named for their 8-inch long zigzag form; shekla tibs are some of our favorites and are served on a clay pot over steaming charcoals; awaze tibs are regular tibs cooked in delicious awaze spice.
Tibs are commonly eaten with a side of spices, including mitmita, senafich and awaze. See the spices and sauces page to read what’s in these spice mixes.
TERE SIGA (or COORT)
Tere Siga is the only dish where inedible utensils are used. Big chunks of raw meat the size of a fist are served, fat included, and people skillfully use knives to cut off bite-sized chunks while gripping the slab of meat. The meat is almost always dipped in mitmita, senafich, andawaze. See the spices and sauces page for more info.
Algelgil, meaning basket in Amharic, is all things beyaynetu (the quintessential fasting dish) plus some meat served up in a basket . Each different dish is layered between sheets of injera, brought to your table, and its contents dumped onto a bed of injera in front of you.
Each dish in the Agelgil is prepared differently and the ingredients vary at each restaurant depending on what is fresh and abundant!
Meat is often served up with just one other vegetable ingredient in a wot. For example, Dinich be Siga pairs potatoes with meat while Gomen be Siga uses collard greens instead. The meat is usually stewed with berbere and steamed vegetables.
Shiro, usually known as a fasting meal, is adapted by adding chunks of meat. The Shiro is prepared as a fasting dish, and strips of meat are sautéed and then added to the final mix.
FIRFIR BE SIGA/QUANTA
Vegetarian firfir, scrambled injera sautéed with oil and spices, is sometimes combined with meat at the end of the cooking process to make an extra savory dish. Firfir be Siga uses beef while Quanta Firfir uses beef jerky.
Kitfo is not a dish eaten casually. This minced raw meat dish is a big treat and is reserved for the middle and upper classes and special occassions.
Cuts of lean meat are minced by hand with sickle-like rocking knives and warmed, not cooked, in a pan with Ethiopian butter and berbere. Special kitfo is often served with ayib and gomen (cheese and collard greens).
– Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown Ethiopia CNN