Ethnic Vegetarian Cuisine in Washington, DC

Dining in Ethiopia is characterized by the ritual of breaking injera and eating from the same plate, signifying the bonds of loyalty and friendship. The quintessence of those bonds are often demonstrated in the form of gursha-That is, the placing of food on the mouth of another diner from one's own "hand."

Injera, the traditional Ethiopian bread, is part of every entree. It is a large crepe/pancake upon which the various stew-like dishes are served. The traditional way of eating is with the fingers, which in itself a delicate art. In this manner, a bite sized piece if Injera is broken off to pick up a mouthful of the chosen dish.

Ethiopian dishes are characterized by the variety of spices used to give them their exotic taste. Watt, which is a stew-like dish comes in a variety of forms-beef, lamb, chicken, and vegetables. These range from hotly spiced ( with berbere-a typical Ethiopian red pepper) to very mild. The more delicately seasoned watts are called alicha which contain no berbere. Fitfit, another exotic staple, is a combination dish prepared with broken bits of the Injera itself. Nitter kebbeh, a specially prepared butter, is a key ingredient used to give these dishes their exotic flavor.


Vegetarian dishes are also staple of Ethiopian cuisine, especially during Lent, a period of fifty days before Easter. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are prohibited from eating all meat and meat by products such as milk, cheese and butter untill Easter. Yet the variety of watts and other dishes made of lentis, peas and other vegetables are just as exotic and tasty as those containing meats.



MESKEREM ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT    2434 18th St NW    Washington, DC 20009    Phone (202) 462-4100