Traditions in Ethiopian Food Culture

The culture of food and eating in East Africa differs from much of the world. The example of Ethiopia illustrates this perfectly. Read on to learn about traditions of food and eating in Ethiopia!

A traditional Ethiopian meal of stews, salads and injera, a fermented bread

No Utensils Needed

Don’t see any utentils in the above photo? That’s because eating by hand is part of the culture of eating in Ethiopia. It’s customary to wash your hands and eat an entire meal without touching utensils. Ethiopian cuisine is traditionally enjoyed by tearing off injera bread to collect fragrant stews and meat before devouring the entire bite by hand. It takes some practice to get the technique just right, but it’s fun getting your hands into your food!

Parceling up stews and sauces in porous injera is part of the fun of Ethiopian food

Ethiopian stews, and a large variety of them, are usually served atop of injera a traditional fermented bread made with teff and other flours. The injera batter is like that of a pancake and is left to ferment outside for a number of days before being cooked. One way to tell your bread is well fermented is to check for a high concentration of what Sankara partner Chef Tutu calls ‘eyes.’ These are the porous holes within the injera which form after it bubbles when cooking. The more ‘eyes’ the injera has the better as they’re useful in absorbing your favourite stews and sauces.

Injera with plenty of air pockets

Culture of Eating: Feeding your Friends

Did you know it’s customary for Ethiopians feed each other by hand? Throughout an Ethiopian meal you might encounter this generous custom so open wide!

Friends giving gursha during a meal

It is called ‘gursha’ when someone at the meal feeds another with a delicious bite of injera and sauce. It is an sign of respect to feed a gursha to any elders and guests at the meal. The more ample the bite, the more respect you have for the person so don’t skimp with your elders or your boss.

There are plenty more interesting facts about Ethiopian cuisine and food culture in Ethiopia. Have you enjoyed any of these Ethiopian food traditions?

To learn more about Ethiopian food culture, join our Ethiopian Cooking Class on November 23rd and learn to cook four different vegan dishes with Chef Tutu.

Join our first-ever Ethiopian cooking class

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