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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Kitchen Information Reference Forum / Ethiopian Food Glossary
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    Ethiopian Food Glossary

    Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:25 am
    Forum Host
    Some members have asked about Ethiopian food. I will post a few recipes found elsewhere, but here is a short glossary in the meantime.

    I am indebted to South African Woolworths'* TASTE magazine of Sept.2010, in an article by Abigail Donnelly for this information.

    (*Woolworths is a South African chain with the most amazing food markets, and is in no way connected to the US and UK shops with the same name).

    NOTE: The Amharic language uses a distinct lettering system and thus the spelling of food terms vary considerably when words are written in English.

    ALECHA WAT -- A mild Ethiopian stew that does not contain the berbere spice blend.

    AYEB - Ethiopian buttermilk soft cheese, similar to cottage cheese.

    BERBERE - Ethiopian spice blend containing chilli, fenugreek, paprika and ginger among others. (*I'll post a recipe).

    COFFEE CEREMONY - A significant social event. Coffee beans are roasted, ground, and served from a jebena clay coffee pot accompanied by the burning of frankincense. The order of serving denotes the status of those drinking coffee, with the most important people being served first.

    INJERA - The well-known Ethiopian flatbread made of fermented tef flour. (*Elsewhere subbed with white and rice flour)

    KITFKO - Ethiopian-style steak tartare in which rare or raw ground beef is marinated in mitmita chilli powder and niter kibbeh.

    MITMITA - Extremely hot birds'-eye chilli blended with cardamom and black cumin. Used mainly as a marinade for raw kitfo.

    NITER KIBBEH - Spice-infused clarified butter (like ghee) used as the frying medium for most Ethiopian dishes.

    TEF - Indigenous Ethiopian millet type grain,used in the production of injera bread.

    TALLAH - Tef, maize (corn) or barley beer flavoured with gesho indigenous hops.

    WAT - An Ethiopian stew flavoured with berbere. The prefix states what kind of stew it is: doro wat is chicken stew, key wat is beef stew and misir wat is lentil stew.


    ** GHENET BROOKLYN, 348 Douglass Street, Brooklyn, New York. Tel 718 230 4475 (

    ** AQUAVIT RESTAURANT, 424 Madison Avenue, New York. Tel. 212 307 7311 (

    ** ADDIS IN CAPE, 41 Church Street, Cape Town. Tel 021 424 5722 (
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