5 Most Popular Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes
Ethiopian food can be very vegetarian and vegan friendly since it features a selection of uniquely Ethiopian vegetarian dishes that you’ll find available at almost every Ethiopian restaurant. Vegetarians and vegans traveling to Ethiopia should consider visiting just prior to Orthodox Easter or Orthodox Christmas as you will be virtually guaranteed to find vegetarian food everywhere during these times.
This is because most Ethiopians that follow the Ethiopian Orthodox religion will be fasting by forgoing forgo meat and dairy products for upwards of 50 days.
Fasting dishes served during these periods are incredibly delicious, and may not always be available in restaurants during the non-fasting periods.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #1: Shiro Wot
Shiro Wot, or just Shiro, is arguably the one of the most commonly consumed Wot dishes in Ethiopia. It is especially popular during the fasting periods among Ethiopian Orthodox Christians as well as vegetarians & vegans who abstain from eating meat and dairy products. However, there are varieties of Shiro that are made out of butter and also have meat added to them, so remember to let your waiter know your preferences beforehand.
Shiro is made from chickpea and broad bean flour, subtly spiced with garlic, onion, chili, niter kibbeh, and sometimes meat. Shiro can slightly vary from one restaurant to another depending on the types and proportions of ingredients they used. In more traditional restaurants, Shiro is served in a miniature clay pot hot, bubbling and spluttering.
Shiro is also served as one of the central dishes included in Beyainetu.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #2: Misir Kik Wot
Another staple for the vegetarian repertoire of Ethiopian dishes is Misir Kik Wot, or red lentil stew. A rich and spicy red lentil stew, Misir Kik Wot was among our favorite staples on a fasting plate. Made with sautéed onions, Berbere, cardamom and other spices, Misir Kik Wot is the ultimate vegetarian comfort food. The lentils are cooked with a few spoons of berbere spice powder to give them a nice redness in color, and cooked until tender, yet they still have some texture to them.
Just like Shiro, Misir Kik can slightly vary from one restaurant to another depending on the types and proportions of ingredients.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #3: Kik Alicha Wot
A similarly styled stew to Misir Kik, made with split peas is Kik Alicha, or Split Pea stew. A non-spicy split pea stew made with turmeric, Kik Alicha helps balance out all the other flavors and spice on an Ethiopian plate. Although Kik Alicha does not pack a lot of heat, it still features a lot of flavor.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #4: Gomen
Gomen is a simple, flavorful dish made from kale (or collard greens), onions, Niter Kibbeh and other spices sautéed and simmered together. Gomen made a regular appearance on vegetarian platters and is a welcome addition amongst all those lentils and beans.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #5: Tikil Gomen
This is a popular vegetarian dish. Tikil Gomen, which is means Cabbage in Amharic, is a very easy dish to make as well as to alter the serving size as per your please. It can also be a dish to serve accompanying other Ethiopian ‘Wot’ dishes. There are many variations on this recipe; it can be prepared with just the cabbage including carrots and potatoes, or it can include meat, and so on.
Tikil Gomen is a typical dish that is served alongside other dishes, but can also be served on its own, making it one of the most versatile, vegetarian friendly, Ethiopian food. It’s very simple to make and tastes great.