Ethiopian cuisine - it's a flavorful and diverse mix of spices, herbs and ingredients... yet it's still a lesser-known cultural food choice in the West.
The best part of Ethiopian food is that it's not only delicious but super easy to find a wealth of vegan options. For us, Ethiopian food is up there with Indian and Mexican for its ease in making vegan.
In this post, we dive into the best vegan Ethiopian foods, including eight of the most popular and delicious dishes that you totally have to try!
Is Ethiopian Food Vegan-Friendly?
Yes, Ethiopian food is generally vegan-friendly, as the cuisine is built on plant-based ingredients. In fact, Ethiopian food is actually quite well-known for its variety of vegetarian and vegan options, as many Ethiopians follow a primarily plant-based diet due to religious or cultural reasons.
A long-time favorite Ethiopian vegan dish is injera, a kind of sourdough flatbread made from teff flour, which is naturally gluten-free. Injera is typically served with a variety of stews, known as wats, which are often made with lentils, split peas, or vegetables such as carrots and cabbage. Did we mention it's super tasty?
Some Ethiopian dishes contain butter or other animal bi-products, so it is best to ask about ingredients when ordering. But overall, Ethiopian cuisine is a great option for vegans and vegetarians, especially if you're looking to expand your culinary horizons.
8 Must-Try Vegan Ethiopian Dishes
Injera is a staple food in Ethiopia and is considered the country's national dish. It's a sourdough flatbread made from teff flour, a gluten-free ancient grain. Teff has a naturally sour taste, which gives injera its unique flavor. Injera is a vital part of Ethiopian cuisine, and it's used as a utensil to scoop up other dishes. It's an excellent vegan option, as it's made with only flour, water, and salt, and it's a great source of protein and fiber.
Shiro is another popular vegan Ethiopian dish made from ground chickpeas or lentils, mixed with onions, garlic, and spices like cumin and turmeric. The mixture is then simmered until it forms a thick, creamy stew. Shiro is a staple food in Ethiopia and is often served with injera or other bread. It's a protein-rich and flavorful dish that is a must-try for vegans and non-vegans alike.
3. Misir Wot
Misir wot is a spicy lentil stew made with red lentils, onions, garlic, and berbere spice, which is a blend of chili peppers, ginger, and other spices. Berbere spice is a key ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine, and it's used in many dishes to add flavor and heat. Misir wot is a popular vegan dish and is typically served with injera. It's a protein-packed and spicy dish that will satisfy your taste buds.
4. Kik Alicha
Kik Alicha is a mild stew made from split peas, onions, garlic, and ginger. It's a great option for those who prefer milder flavors or are new to Ethiopian cuisine. The dish is low in calories, high in fiber, and rich in protein, making it a perfect vegan meal. Kik alicha is typically served with injera or other bread, and it's an excellent side dish to complement other Ethiopian dishes.
Gomen is a vegan Ethiopian dish made from collard greens cooked with onions, garlic, and ginger. Collard greens are a superfood packed with nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber. The dish is usually served as a side dish and is a flavorful and nutritious addition to any meal. Gomen pairs perfectly with injera or other bread and is a great way to incorporate more greens into your diet.
6. Atakilt Wat
Atakilt Wat is a vegan Ethiopian dish made from potatoes, carrots, and cabbage cooked with onions, garlic, and turmeric. It's a hearty and satisfying dish that is perfect for colder weather. Atakilt Wat is typically served with injera or other bread and is a filling meal on its own. It's a great option for vegans looking for a nutritious and flavorful meal.
7. Tikil Gomen
Tikil Gomen is a vegan Ethiopian dish made from cabbage, carrots, and potatoes cooked with onions, garlic, and turmeric. It's a milder dish compared to other Ethiopian foods and is an excellent option for those who prefer less spicy flavors. The dish is often served as a side dish and pairs well with injera and other Ethiopian dishes. Tikil Gomen is a nutritious and flavorful way to add more vegetables to your diet.
Fasolia is a vegan Ethiopian dish made from green beans cooked with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. It's a simple yet flavorful side dish that pairs well with injera and other Ethiopian dishes. The dish is easy to make and is a great way to incorporate more veggies into your diet. Green beans are a good source of vitamins C and K and are rich in fiber, making fasolia a healthy and tasty addition to any meal.
Vegan-Friendly Ethiopian Condiments
Ethiopian cuisine is also known for its variety of vegan-friendly condiments that add depth and flavor to any dish. Some of the most popular Ethiopian condiments include:
Berbere is a spice blend made from chili peppers, ginger, garlic, and other spices. It's a key ingredient in many Ethiopian dishes, including misir wot and shiro. Berbere adds a spicy kick and a depth of flavor to any dish.
Mitmita is a spice blend made from chili peppers, cardamom, and other spices. It's often used to add heat and flavor to dishes like tibs and kitfo.
Awaze is a condiment made from berbere spice, garlic, and vinegar. It's used as a dipping sauce or marinade for grilled meats and vegetables.
4. Shiro Powder
Shiro powder is made from ground chickpeas or lentils and is used to make shiro, a popular Ethiopian dish. It's a versatile ingredient that can also be used as a thickener in stews and sauces.
Ethiopian cuisine is a vibrant and exciting cuisine that offers a unique blend of spices, herbs, and ingredients.
Its range of vegan dishes is sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate, and with its emphasis on fresh vegetables and legumes, it's also a healthy option for those looking to eat a more plant-based diet. From injera and shiro to misir wot and kik alicha, these vegan Ethiopian dishes are a must-try for anyone looking to experience the flavors of Ethiopia.
So, the next time you're looking for a new vegan cuisine to explore, give Ethiopian food a try and discover the richness of its flavors and culture.