Since practically every Ethiopian restaurant anywhere in the world serves a variety of distinctively Ethiopian vegetarian meals, Ethiopian cuisine is very vegetarian and vegan friendly.
For vegetarian or vegan travelers who are thinking of visiting Ethiopia, the best time to go to Ethiopia to sample and experience the wide array of foods is during the fasting season right before Orthodox Easter or right before Orthodox Christmas, when you can almost always get vegetarian food. This is due to the fact that the majority of Ethiopians who practice Ethiopian Orthodoxy will be abstaining from meat and dairy for around 50 days.
In this article, we will some of the most popular vegetarian or vegan-friendly Ethiopian dishes, which you will most likely find even in the off-fasting seasons while you are visiting Ethiopia or an Ethiopian Restaurant outside of Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #1: Shiro Wot
One of Ethiopia’s most popular Wot dishes is undoubtedly Shiro Wot or just Shiro. It is particularly well-liked by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who fast, as well as vegetarians and vegans who avoid eating meat and dairy items. Shiro can be made with butter or with meat added, so be sure to let your server know your preferences in advance if you prefer one of those varieties.
Shiro is a chickpea and wide bean flour dish that is delicately seasoned with niter kibbeh, garlic, onion, chile, and occasionally meat. The types and ratios of the components used in Shiro can vary slightly from one restaurant to the next. Shiro is typically served in a little clay pot in more conventional restaurants, where it is hot, bubbling, and sputtering.
Shiro is additionally included as one of the main courses in the popular mixed-platter dish known as Beyainetu.
You can find the recipe for Shiro here.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #2: Misir Kik Wot
Misir Kik Wot, or red lentil stew, is another mainstay in Ethiopian cuisine for vegetarians. Misir Kik Wot, a hearty and spicily red lentil stew, is an Ethiopian favorite, especially during the fasting periods. Misir Kik Wot, a dish made with sautéed onions, berbere, cardamom, and other spices, is the perfect comfort food for vegetarians. The lentils are cooked till tender but still retain some structure with a few spoonfuls of berbere spice powder to give them a lovely scarlet in color.
Similar to Shiro, Misir Kik might vary slightly from restaurant to restaurant based on the kinds and ratios of the ingredients.
You can find the recipe for Misir Wot here.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #3: Kik Alicha Wot
Kik Alicha Wot, or Split Pea stew, is a dish prepared with split peas that has a similar in style to Misir Kik. Kik Alicha, a non-spicy split pea stew cooked with turmeric, helps bring an Ethiopian plate’s other flavors and spices into harmony. Kik Alicha is the perfect dish to start with for those who are just trying out Ethiopian foods because, while it is rich in flavor, it is not too spicy.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #4: Gomen
Gomen is a straightforward, tasty dish made with sautéed and cooked collard greens (or kale), onions, niter kibbeh, and other spices. Gomen is a great accompaniment to all the wot dishes and beans that are frequently featured on the Ethiopian vegetarian platter.
You can find the recipe for Gomen here.
Ethiopian Vegetarian Dishes #5: Tikil Gomen
This dish is another favorite among vegetarians. Tikil Gomen, which translates to “cabbage” in Amharic, is a fairly simple dish that can have any serving size you like. It may also be served as a side dish with other Ethiopian ‘Wot’ dishes. There are numerous ways to cook this dish; it can be made with only the cabbage without any carrots or potatoes, it can be made with meat, etc.
While Tikil Gomen is most commonly served with other dishes, it can also be served by itself as a standalone dish.