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Ethiopian Cuisine

Ethiopian cuisine is one of the world's best kept secrets.  Ethiopian food is an exotically spicy mix of vegetables, slow-simmered meat or grain stews, and fresh meat sautés.

Ethiopia is a place of high plateaus and low-lying plains, and home to over 70 million people.  The northern high country is populated mainly by Christians, while the plains are home to Muslims and animists.  Dietary restrictions due to religions and location have given rise to a wide variety of both meat and vegetarian dishes.

Ethiopian dishes are prepared with a distinctive variety of unique spices, which lend an unforgettably striking dimension to its exotic cookery. Grains like millet, sorghum, wheat and ancient teff , a tiny round grain closely resembling millet, form the basic breadstuffs of the diet.  Most farming in Ethiopia is subsistence, so the vegetables and animals are often grown and raised at home.  The ancient practice of beekeeping produces exquisite honey.  It is fermented to make tej, the Ethiopian honey wine.

Essential components of Ethiopian cooking are berbere, a spicy red pepper paste, niter kibbeh, a spice-infused clarified butter, and injera Injera, the sourdough pancake-like bread of Ethiopia, is made from a fermented sourdough teff batter - in this way, it has a slightly tangy flavor and a wonderful light and airy texture. Most traditional dishes have a stewy consistency.  Alicha indicates a mild stew while Wots are stews with the spicy flavor of berberé. Sautéed meats add to the variety of a meal.

Dining in Ethiopia is characterized by sharing food from a common plate, signifying the bonds of loyalty, family, and friendship.  The traditional Ethiopian meal is served on a large platter that is draped with the crepe-like injera bread, with the selection of foods decoratively arranged around the center dishTo eat, diners simply tear off a piece of injera, use it to scoop up some of the various dishes and pop it in their mouths.  Extra injera is usually served on the side.  Honey wine, beer or telba, a flaxseed drink, are served as beverages.