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Eritrean cuisine

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Title: Eritrean cuisine  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: African cuisine, Injera, List of African cuisines, Shiro (food), Himbasha
Collection: African Cuisine, Eritrean Cuisine
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Eritrean cuisine

Kitcha fit-fit is a staple of Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. It consists of shredded, oiled, and spiced bread, often served with a scoop of fresh yogurt and topped with berbere (spice).

Eritrean cuisine is a fusion of Eritrea's native culinary traditions, and the area's long history of trade and social interchanges with other regions and cultures.


  • Overview 1
  • Common foods and dishes 2
  • Beverages 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The main traditional food in Eritrean cuisine is legumes; mainly lentil and faba beans). Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine (especially in the northern half) are very similar, given the shared history of the two countries. A typical traditional Eritrean dish consists of injera accompanied by a spicy stew, which frequently includes beef, kid, lamb or fish. [1] Overall, Eritrean cuisine strongly resembles those of neighboring Ethiopia,[1][2] Eritrean cooking tend to feature more seafood than Ethiopian cuisine on account of its coastal location.[1] Eritrean dishes are also frequently "lighter" in texture than Ethiopian meals. They likewise tend to employ less seasoned butter and spices and more tomatoes, as in the tsebhi dorho delicacy.

Additionally, owing to its colonial history, cuisine in Eritrea features more Italian influences than are present in Ethiopian cooking, including more pasta and greater use of curry powders and cumin.The Italian Eritrean cuisine started to be practiced during the colonial times of the Kingdom of Italy, when a large number of Italians moved to Eritrea. They brought the use of "pasta" to Italian Eritrea, and it is one of the main food eaten in preesnt-day Asmara. An Italian Eritrean cuisine emerged, and dishes common dishes are 'Pasta al Sugo e Berbere', which means "Pasta with tomato sauce and berbere" (spice), but there are many more like "lasagna" and "cotoletta alla milanese" (milano cutlet).[3] Alongside sowa, people in Eritrea also tend to drink coffee.[1] Mies is another popular local alcoholic beverage, made out of honey.[4]

Common foods and dishes

Taito and shiro, staple dishes of Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine.

Eritrean food habits vary regionally. In the highlands, injera is the staple diet and eaten daily among the Tigrinya. When eating, diners generally share food from a large tray placed in the centre of a low dining table. Numerous injera are layered on this tray and topped with various spicy stews. Diners break into the section of injera in front of them, tearing off pieces and dipping them into the stews.

The stews that accompany injera are usually made from beef, chicken, mutton or vegetables. Most Eritreans, with the exception of the Saho, like their food hot and spicy. Berbere, a spice mixture that consists of a variety of common and unusual herbs and spices, accompanies almost all dishes. Stews include zigni, which is made of beef; dorho tsebhi, which is made of chicken; alicha, which is a vegetable dish made without berbere; and shiro, a purée of various legumes.

In the lowlands, the main dish is akelet (also known locally as ga'at), a porridge-like dish made from wheat flour dough. A ladle is used to make an indentation in the dough, which is then filled with berbere, butter sauce and surrounded by milk or yogurt. When dining, a small piece of dough is dipped into the berbere and the butter sauce, and then plunged into the milk or yogurt.

Influenced by its past as an Italian colony, Eritrean cuisine also features unique interpretations of classic Italian dishes.[5] Among these specialties are pasta sauces spiced with berbere.[6]


An Eritrean woman at a traditional coffee ceremony.

Sowa is the name for the home-brewed beer common in Eritrea. It is made from roasted corn, barley and other grain and is flavored with gesho, a type of buckthorn leaf. The beverage is often made for celebrations; a sweet honey wine is also commonly served. The coffee ceremony is one of the most important and recognizable parts of Eritrean and Ethiopian cultures. Coffee is offered when visiting friends, during festivities, or as a daily staple of life. If coffee is politely declined, then tea (shahee) will most likely be served.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Goyan Kittler, Pamela; Sucher, Kathryn P. and Nahikian-Nelms, Marcia (2011). Food and Culture, 6th ed. Cengage Learning. p. 202.  
  2. ^ Tekle, Amare (1994). Eritrea and Ethiopia: From Conflict to Cooperation. The Red Sea Press. p. 142.  
  3. ^ Carman, Tim (9 January 2009). "Mild Frontier: the differences between Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisines come down to more than spice". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Eritrea: Travel Trade Manual. Ministry of Tourism of Eritrea. 2000. p. 4. 
  5. ^ "Man Bites World, Day 64: Eritrea". March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  6. ^ "Mu'ooz Eritrean Restaurant menu". March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 

External links

  • Eritrean food practices
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