Glossary


T
HIS COMPREHENSIVE GLOSSARY offers a guide to Ethiopian cuisine: the names of dishes commonly served at Ethiopian restaurants, along with entries for many words and terms relating to Ethiopian food.

Unless otherwise noted, the entries in the glossary are words in Amharic, the state language of Ethiopia, and most restaurants around the world name their dishes in transliterated Amharic.

But there are more than 90 languages spoken across the country (some by only a few thousand people). Ethiopians from the north speak Tigrinya, which is also the language of Eritrea, whose cuisine is identical to Ethiopian (Eritrea was once a northern province of Ethiopia). Afaan Oromo is also a widely spoken language, although even if an immigrant restaurant owner is Oromo, the restaurant will most likely use the Amharic names for dishes because of their familiarity. Still, this glossary includes some common food words in Tigrinya and Afaan Oromo that you may encounter, and they’ll be noted as such.

After each entry, I’ll show the word written in the letters of the Ethiopic alphabet used to write Amharic or Tigrinya. Afaan Oromo uses the Latin alphabet. So does Somali, and I’ll include a few food words from that culture that relate to Ethiopian food (many ethnic Somalis live in Ethiopia).

And just for fun, I’ll toss in a few food words from some other Ethiopian languages, like Adare (Harari), written in the Ethiopic alphabet, and Afar, Sidama, Mursi, Dime, Suri, Hamar, Gwama and Shinasha (Boro), all written in the Latin alphabet. I’m always searching for dictionaries of Ethiopian languages.

Transliterating the Amharic and Tigrinya fidels (letters) of the Ethiopic alphabet is imprecise at best because the process has never been standardized. This can lead to numerous different spellings on menus, such as the word for a spicy meat stew: You may see wot or wat or wet or w’et. The glossary will note all of these possibilities.

In you want to see how to say “honey” and “honey wine” in every Ethiopian language, then you’ll need to visit my other site about t’ej, the Ethiopian honey wine. The full honey wine chart is very detailed.

Finally, the entries cross reference with each other, so if you see an italicized word in one entry that you don’t know, it will have an entry elsewhere in the glossary.

 

A

Abiraangoo. The Afaan Oromo word for a type of cabbage eaten during the dry season.

Abol አቦል. The first cup of coffee at an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Traditionally, three cups are served. See also hulatona and bereka.

Abish አብሽ. Fenugreek.

Abizi አቢዚ. A flat bread, thicker than injera, made in the northern Gashena region of Ethiopia near Lalibela.

Acacia ግራር. A line of red and white wines made in Ethiopia that are also exported and sold abroad. The brand is owned by Castel Winery and produces a dry red, medium sweet red and medium sweet white. The Amharic word for the acacia is grar, hence the Amharic name for the brand.

Achuk. The Mursi word for siga, or meat.

Adangware አደንጓሬ. A type of broad bean used in some Ethiopian dishes. Also sometimes used simply as a word for bean.

Aflegna አፍለኝ. Injera that’s made before the batter has fermented fully, perhaps a little on the sweet side, without proper eyes on top.

Afrinj አፍርንጅ. A very mildly spiced condiment for kids or anyone who can’t handle berbere or mitmita.

Agelgel አገልግል. An animal hide basket with a lid and strings to tie it shut, used as a sort of lunch basket. Sometimes spelled agilgil.

Aguat ዐጓት. The whey that remains after you process the ayib out of buttermilk or yogurt.

Ahmelti ኣሕምልቲ. The Tigrinya word for vegetable.

Aja አጃ. Oats.

Ajibo. ኣጁቦ. The Tigrinya word for ayib.

Ajowan. አጆዋን. See nech azmud.

Akuri Atar አኩሪ አትር. Soybean.

Alicha አልጫ. A mild stew of meat or vegetables made without berbere, spiced with such things as ginger or turmeric. Occasionally written alich’a.

Ambasha አምባሻ. A large round leavened bread, usually with a design carved in the top. This bread comes from Tigray in the north of Ethiopia. Sometimes written hambasha or himbasha ሕምባሻ.

Ambo አምቦ. A popular brand of mineral water in Ethiopia that’s also sold abroad, named for the town from whose springs it comes.

Anebabero አነባበሮ. Layers of injera, piled one on top of the other, and all smeared with niter qibe and berbere.

Anchote እንጮቴ. A climbing leafy plant with a potato-like fruit eaten by the Oromo culture of Ethiopia. Sometimes written ancootee.

Anjero. One of the Somali words for injera. See also canjeero and laxoox. This Somali version of injera is bubbly on top and smooth on the bottom but made with white flour and not fermented.

Araki. See areqe.

Areqe ዐረቄ. An Ethiopian distilled liquor, similar to katikala. Sometimes spelled araki. When made by a distillery rather than in the home, it’s flavored with anise, so it’s essentially an Ethiopian ouzo.

Asa ዓሣ. Fish.

Asama ዐሣማ. Pig. Ethiopian Christians and Moslems don’t eat pork, but some Protestants and Catholics in Ethiopia do. Sometimes spelled aasama.

Ashuk አሹቅ. A dish made of beans that are first roasted and then boiled.

Askwal አስኳል. Egg yolk.

Asmara ኣስመራ. A brand of Eritrean bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad. Named for the country’s capital city.

Atakilt አታከልት. Vegetable. In Tigrinya, the similar word is atakiltawi.

Atar አትር. Pea.

Atmit አጥሚት. A drink of barley and oat flour mixed in water and flavored with niter qibe and sugar.

Atwaq አተዋቅ. The Harari word for chicken.

Awash አዋሽ. A brand of white wine made in Ethiopia that’s also exported and sold abroad. Once called Awash Cristal.

Awaze አዋዜ. Berbere blended with water, oil and t’ej or wine. It’s used as a dipping sauce or stir fry sauce to spice up meat dishes. More or less the same as delleh. Some cooks say that if you use oil and water, it’s awaze, but if you use wine or t’ej, it’s delleh.

Axumit አክሱሚት. A brand of red wine made in Ethiopia that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Ayib አይብ. Traditional homemade Ethiopian cheese.

Azegajajet አዘገጃጀት. Recipe. See also ye’megeb asrare.

Azifa አዚፋ. A dish made of green lentils blended with chopped onions, jalapenos, lime juice and vegetable oil, then spiced with ginger and turmeric. Usually served cold.

 

B

Baduu. The Afaan Oromo word for ayib, or cheese.

Balasha. The Hamar word for injera (bread).

Balonha ባሎንኌ. The Tigrinya word for bean.

Bamya ባምያ. Okra.

Banatu ባናቱ. A dish where another food or dish is placed on top of the main dish after it’s cooked.

Baqela ባቄላ. Fava bean, but also sometimes used as a general word for bean.

Baqolo በቆሎ. Corn. Sometimes spelled bakolo.

Baqolti በቆልቲ. A dish made of sprouted beans that are boiled and served in a hot sauce or sprinkled with berbere or mitmita. This name is in Tigrinya. The Amharic name is bekolt.

Basara በሰር. The Harari word for beef.

Basobila በሶቢላ. Sacred basil, a spice. This is an Ethiopian basil somewhat (but not exactly) like the kind used elsewhere.

Bati ባቲ. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Bedele በደሌ. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Bedergan በደርጃን. Eggplant. The Amharic spells bederjan, but it’s almost never written that way.

Beg በግ. Lamb.

Berbere በርበሬ. An Ethiopian red pepper powder used to make a wot. It’s dried, finely ground hot Mexican chili pepper blended with other spices – sometimes half a dozen or more – of the chef’s choosing. This is also the basic Amharic word for pepper, and the name for the variety of pepper used to make the spice is berbere as well. In English, we would call it a chili pepper. See mitmita and qundo berbere.

Berchma በርጨማ. A small round wooden stool that goes around a mesob.

Berd mebel ብርድ ምግብ. See qezqaza megeb.

Bereka በረካ. The third cup of coffee at an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Traditionally, three cups are served. The word means “blessed.” See also abol and hulatona.

Berele ብርል. This is a vessel for drinking t’ej. It has a round bottom, long neck, and small hole at the top of the neck.

Berz በረዘ. Honey mixed with water, and perhaps allowed to ferment for a day or two, but not so long that it develops any alcohol content. This is an alcohol-free alternative to t’ej.

Beso በሶ. Roasted barley flour. It can be used to make several dishes also simply called beso: by mixing it with water to make a pasty or crumbly snack, or by mixing it with water and honey to make a drink.

Besobela. በሶብላ. An Ethiopian basil, sometimes called sacred basil.

Beyayenetu በያይነቱ. A combination platter of dishes, usually all vegetarian. If you add meat, it’s a beyayenetu b’siga (“with meat”).

Bhirrido. The Mursi word for zilzil, or meat cut into strips for roasting.

Bikil ብቅል. Germinated barley, used to make t’alla.

Biret Mitad ብረት ምጣድ. A small metal pan on the end of a long handle, used for roasting coffee beans over a heat source.

Birsen ብርስን. The Tigrinya word for lentil.

Birtukan ብርቱካን. Orange.

Biru ቢራ. Beer

Boloqe ቦሎቄ. A word for a type of bean.

Bozena Shiro ቦዘነ ሽሮ. Beef mixed with shiro. The word bozena means “lazy.”

Brindo በርንዶ. Raw meat served as a meal in chunks. See tere siga.

Budeena. The Afaan Oromo word for injera. Sometimes written bideena.

Bula ቡላ. Powdered enset used to make a porridge of the same name that’s flavored with niter qibe.

Buna ቡና. Coffee

Buna Bet ቡና ቤት. Literally, “coffee house.”

Buna Qala ቡና ቃላ. Coffee flavored with butter, a favorite way to serve coffee in Oromo culture.

Butecha ቡጥጫ. A dish of chick pea flour cooked in water until it thickens, then spiced with ginger and turmeric, to which you add chopped onions and jalapenos and some lemon juice. Usually served cold.

 

C

Cado. The Afar word for beef.

Canjeero or Canjeelo. One of the Somali words for injera. See also laxoox and anjero. This Somali version of injera is bubbly on top and smooth on the bottom but made with white flour and not fermented.

Castel ካሰቴል. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Chabsi ጨብሲ. Liquor, alcohol.

Chabasa ጨባሳ. An alcoholic drink.

Chagwara ጨጓራ. Stomach, sometimes served in a wot using the stomach of a cow or lamb. See also tripa and sember.

Chechebsa ጨጨብሳ . An Oromo way of serving qita, chopped into pieces rather than served as a whole flat “pie.”

Chefuye ጨፉየ. A dipping sauce for tere siga made with qibe and berbere, sort of like awaze.

Chemaqi ጭማቂ. Juice.

Chew ጨው. Salt.

Chibito. ጭብጦ. A paste made from crushed and roasted nug (niger) seeds, often added to a thin, flat, unleavened bread like kita, which is then made into the shape of a fist. Also the name for the finished bread itself. Some recipes add berbere, and some use sesame seed paste rather than nug paste. Ethiopian parents in some regions and cultures will sometimes feed this to their weaning children. It’s also eaten as a snack or during a coffee ceremony. This food preserves well, so it’s often eaten as “journey food” by travelers or shepherds, and soldiers would take some with them during war campaigns. Called hisyo or litlit in some Ethiopian cultures and languages.

Chifeko. ጭፍቆ. A paste made from pounded sesame seeds, added to a thin unleavened bread, like kita, and then mashed into smaller pieces that become soaked in the sesame paste. Also the name for the finished bread itself. It’s often eaten as a snack.

Chikina Tibs ጭቅና ጥብስ. This term refers to a beef dish made with the tenderloins of the cow, considered to be a lesser cut of beef. The term comes from the Amharic word chequn, meaning a poor person. (Interestingly, the word cheqona means oppressor.) It’s probably better written chekena, but menus that use the term usually write chikina.

Chiko ጭኮ. A porridge of barley meal flavored with niter qibe.

Chocho ጮጮ. A straw pitcher used by some cultures in Ethiopia to carry and serve milk.

Chodigay. The Suri word for quanta, or beef jerky.

Chodhugai. The Mursi word for quanta, or beef jerky.

Chornaki ጮርናቄ. A ball of fried dough lightly dusted with sugar, eaten as a dessert or a snack. Similar to a pasti.

Chumbo. A bread made by the Oromo culture of Ethiopia. The cook begins by heating a concave mitad-like oven with hot coals. She places the dough or batter onto the hot surface, covers it with enset leaves, then places a second identical concave oven on top. The finished bread comes out moist and juicy.

Chuuco. The Afaan Oromo word for beso, roasted barley flour.

Ciccire. The Afaan Oromo word for zilzil, or meat cut into strips.

 

D

Da. The Gwama word for butter.

Daaddii. The Afaan Oromo word for t’ej.

Daata ዳጣ. A spicy condiment or dip made with berbere and other spices.

Dabo ዳቦ. Bread. Although injera is the staple bread of Ethiopian cuisine, Ethiopians do make a variety of leavened breads, like the ambasha, mulmul or defo dabo, to name a few.

Dabo Qolo ዳቦ ቆሎ. Small pieces of dough, fried or baked and eaten as a snack. Sometime written dabo kolo.

Dabo Tibs ዳቦ ጥብስ. Toast. Literally “fried bread.”

Dagera ዳገራ. Another word that refers to a gursha, it occurs when one person places a morsel of food into another person’s mouth, and the other person then returns the honor. It’s a ritual of sharing.

Dagesa ደጌሳ. Gomen mixed with ayib, a specialty of the Gurage culture.

Dagusa ዳጉሳ. Ethiopian millet.

Dalan. ዳላን. The Adare (Harari) name for a dish of sesame seeds, honey and butter, prepared in the Arab-influenced Moslem cultures of Ethiopia in Harar and Dire Dawa. It’s often formed into a ball after roasting or sun-drying the sesame, then crushing it with a mortar and pestle. The bride who is not a virgin (i.e., a widow) will eat this at her wedding. Also called mutabak.

Damma. The Afaan Oromo word for honey.

Dashen ዳሽን. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Dayas ደያስ. A thin watery shiro – “prison food,” says one dictionary.

Defin ድፍን. Whole (entire). For example: defin misir alicha, a mild stew of whole brown lentils.

Derek ደረቅ. Dry. A dish called derek tibs – meat that’s pan fried in niter qibe – doesn’t have a juicy kulet like a wot.

Dirkosh ድርቆሽ. Sun- or oven-dried pieces of injera, usually crispy and crunchy.

Defo Dabo ድፎ ዳቦ. A leavened bread that’s wrapped in the leaves of the enset plant for baking. Outside of Ethiopia, you can use banana leaves if you can’t find enset leaves.

Derho ደርሆ. The Tigrinya word for chicken, very similar to the Amharic doro.

Diblik ድብልቅ. Mixture, as in diblik atakilt (mixed vegetables). See also qelqel.

Dinich ድንች. Potato

Delleh or Dilleh ድልህ. See awaze.

Dembelal ድምብላል. Coriander.

Dhadhaa The Afaan Oromo word for butter.

Dhangaa. The Afaan Oromo word for food and drink prepared for a
celebration.

Doké ዶቄ. Thick. This is one way to serve shiro – in a thicker form, not too thin and liquid. See also feses.

Doro ዶሮ. Chicken.

Doro Tibs ዶሮ ጥብስ. Chicken fried in niter qibe, usually with onions, jalapenos and spices.

Dorrahi. The Afar word for chicken.

Duba ዱባ. Pumpkin or squash.

Dukam ዱክም. A brand of red wine made in Ethiopia that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Dulet ዱለት. This stew should have at least three meats, including liver (plus maybe tripe and kidney), and the most traditional is made with lamb liver.

Duqet ዱቄት. Flour or powder.

Dus ዱስ. The Harari word for honey.

 

E

Eelee. The Afaan Oromo word for mitad.

Efeta እፈታ. This term refers to the buttery part of a meaty wot or alicha – that is, the layer of butter that floats to the top in the pot or on your plate. The more buttery the dish you serve, the more you trumpet your prosperity, so the man or woman of the house will eat the efeta first at a meal.

Ehl እህል. Grain.

Endushdush እንዱሽዱሽ. A dish made of seeds that are soaked and then roasted.

Enfirfir እንፍርፍር. A thick paste-like shiro served with injera or bread..

Engotcha እንጎቻ. Small wheat breads that you dip in honey, a treat enjoyed by the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews). The word can also mean a small round snack pancake.

Enqulal እንቁላል. Egg.

Enqulal Tibs እንቁላል ጥብስ. The Ethiopian take on scrambled eggs.

Ensera እንስራ. A pitcher than can be used for making t’alla or t’ej.

Enset እንሰት. A tree eaten by southern Ethiopian cultures in various forms. See qocho, bula.

Entati. እንጣጢዕ. The Tigrinya word for flax seed.

Entiktik እንትክትክ. This word refers to something boiled and can be used to refer to a boiled porridge.

Erat እራት. Dinner.

Ergo እርጎ. Yogurt.

Ersho እርሾ. Yeast.

Eshet እሸት. A dish made of fresh green seeds eaten raw or roasted.

Eshkenfer እሽክንፍር. A dish made of tripe stuffed with onion and spices and cooked into a sauce. Also written iskunfur.
 
 

F

Fafa ፋፋ. This is a nutritional food made from powdered chick peas, teff and milk. The mixture is boiled in water until it thickens into a porridge. It was developed in the 1960s by a Swedish company as a way of fighting childhood malnutrition in Ethiopia, and the Faffa Co. still exists today. The name comes from an Amharic word that means to flourish or to grow fat – which, in a country with so much malnutrition, is considered to be a good thing.

Fagioli. ፋጆሊ. The Tigrinya word for green bean (string bean), but also, the name for a dish of green beans stewed in onions, sometimes with carrots. Clearly, the word come from the Italian influence in Eritrea, but it also led to the word fasolia in Amharic, the name for this dish.

Farso. The Afaan Oromo word for t’alla, an Ethiopian homemade grain beer.

Fasolia or Fosolia ፎሶሊያ. Green bean (string beans), but also the name for a dish of green beans stewed in onions, sometimes with carrots, potatoes or jalapeno peppers. See also fagioli

Fata ፋታ. A spicy Eritrean dish made of chopped crusty bread mixed into silsi (onions, tomatoes and berbere), showing the Italian influence in Eritrean cuisine.

Frafre ፍራፍሬ. Fruit.

Feses ፍስስ. Thin. This is one way to serve shiro – in a thinner, more liquid form. See also doké.

Fetira ፈጢራ. A breakfast food that comes to the cuisine from the Moslem-influenced cities of Dire Dawa and Harar. It’s a flaky puff pastry, sort of like filo dough, or sometimes a thicker dough, combined with an egg in the shape of an omelet.

Feto ፌጦ. An herb (Lepidium sativum) used by Ethiopians in drinks and dishes, often considered to have healthy or healing qualities. It’s called garden cress in English.

Feyal ፍየል. Goat. Not a common food in Ethiopia, but some cultures do eat it.

Fintafinto ፍንታፍንቶ. A name for a type of kitfo made by the Gurages, the culture that created the chopped raw meat dish.

Firfir. See Fitfit.

Fitfit ፍትፍት and Firfir ፍርፍር. The former is a general term for mixing chopped injera into a dish. The latter refers to mixing chopped injera into a spicy wot. All firfir is fitfit, but not all fitfit is firfir. Firfir usually uses dirkosh, and fitfit uses fresh injera.

Foon. The Afaan Oromo word for beef.

Formajo ፎርማጆ. The word used in Amharic and Tigrinya for a cheese other than ayib (Amharic) and ajibo (Tigrinya), a traditional homemade cheese. Clearly, this word comes from the Italian influence in the horn of Africa.

Ful ፉል. A dish of mashed seasoned fava beans that came to the Ethiopian menu from Arabic culture. Often served for breakfast, with a garnish of chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and crusty bread or injera.

Fuura. The Shinasha (Boro) word for butter.

 

G

Ga’at ግዓት. The Tigrinya word for genfo, a barley porridge.

Ganbo ጋንቦ. Large pottery jar used in making t’alla or t’ej.

Gebeta ገበታ. A large round serving platter with the injera and various dishes on top of it. This is also a more generic term for a basket. See mesob.

Gebeta ገበታ. A brand of wine made in Ethiopia that’s also exported and sold abroad. The company makes a red and a white.

Gebr ግብር. A banquet or feast. The serata gebr ሥርዓት ግብር is an important ancient document that details a royal feast. Perhaps easier to write as geber.

Gebs ገብስ. Barley.

Genfilfil ግንፍልፍል. A dish made with beef, shiro and injera, all mixed together into a juicy stew. It can also be made with lamb.

Genfo ገንፎ. An Ethiopian porridge made by cooking water and barley flour until it thickens. When it does, you place the porridge on a plate, carve a hole in the middle, and fill the hole with melted niter qibe spiced with berbere. You then use a spoon to dip pieces of the genfo in the spicy buttery center. Sometimes served surrounded by ergo (yogurt).

Gesho ጌሾ. A species of buckthorn that grows native to Ethiopia. Its woody branches and dried leaves are used to flavor and ferment t’ej an t’alla.

Gogo ጐጐ. The Tigrinya word for a biscuit made of wheat and/or barley flour mixed with water and a little salt.

Gomen ጎመን. Collard greens or kale stewed in onions and spices, a staple Ethiopian vegetable dish. This is also the word for the greens themselves.

Goden Tibs ጎድን ጥብስ. A dish of short ribs. Goden means rib.

Gored Gored ጎርደ ጎርደ. Cubed raw beef that you eat by dipping in mitmita.

Gouder ጉደር. A brand of red wine made in Ethiopia that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Gubat ጉበት. Liver. You can use this to make dulet.

Guddi. The Mursi word for enset.

Gulban ጉልባን. A porridge made of wheat grain and fava beans.

Gumbo ጉምቦ. The horn of an ox, used for drinking t’ej.

Gonqol ጐነቈለ. A dish made of seeds that are soaked, sprouted and roasted. Often written gunkul.

Guh ጒዕ. The Tigrinya word for karya.

Gundoo. The Afaan Oromo word for sefed.

Gursha ጉርሻ. At a meal, this occurs when one person places a morsel of food into another person’s mouth, and the other person then returns the honor. It’s a ritual of sharing. Also called dagera.

 

H

Hakim Stout ሐኪም ስታውት. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Hambasha. See ambasha.

Hamli ሓምሊ. The Tigrinya word for collard greens.

Hanza ሀንዛ. The Tigrinya name for a type of cornbread.

Harar ሐረር. A type of Ethiopian coffee, named for a town in eastern Ethiopia.

Harar ሐረር. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Harar Sofi ሐረር ሶፊ. A brand of non-alcoholic malt bottled in Ethiopian that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Hawaancho. The Sidama word for qolo.

Herud. ህሩድ. The Tigrinya word for turmeric.

Hibist ሕብስት. Manna. In Ge’ez, the ancient language of Ethiopia, this was the word for bread.

Himbasha. See ambasha.

Hisyo. ሕስዮ. A paste made from crushed and roasted nug (niger) seeds, often added to an thin, flat, unleavened bread like kita, which is then made into the shape of a fist. Also the name for the finished bread itself. Some recipes add berbere, and some use sesame seed paste rather than nug paste. Ethiopian parents in some regions and cultures will sometimes feed this to their weaning children. It’s also eaten as a snack or during a coffee ceremony. This food preserves well, so it’s often eaten as “journey food” by travelers or shepherds, and soldiers would take some with them during war campaigns. Called litlit or chibito in some Ethiopian cultures and languages.

Hoolaa. The Afaan Oromo word for lamb.

Hulatona ሁላጦና. The second cup of coffee at an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Traditionally, three cups are served. See also abol and bereka.

Hulbat Marakh ህልብት መረቅ. A spicy thin stew with beef and potatoes, served with injera or dabo. This dish is eaten in the areas of the eastern city of Harar and came to Ethiopia from Arabic culture.

Hwiswas ሕውስዋስ. The Tigrinya word for beyayenetu, a combination platter of dishes, usually all vegetarian.

 

I

Inchet ዕንጨት. The stems or branches of a woody tree or plant. For example, gesho inchet, the wood of the gesho plant, used to make t’ej and t’alla.

Inguday እንጉዳይ. Mushroom.

Injera እንጀራ. The Ethiopian traditional flatbread, made from a fermented batter, and cooked on a large round surface called a mitad. The bread is smooth on the bottom, bubbly on top, and has a spongy consistency.

Ird እርድ. Turmeric.

Ishish ኢሺሽ. The Harari word for butter.

Iskunfur. See eshkenfer.

Ita. The Shinasha (Boro) word for wot, or stew.

Ittoo. The Afaan Oromo word for wot, or stew. A spicy stew, wot in Amharic, is ittoo diimaa, literally, “red stew.” A mild stew, alicha in Amharic, is ittoo boora, literally, “yellow stew.”

 

J

Jebeba ጀበና. A pot for serving Ethiopian coffee, round on the bottom with a long neck and a spout at the top.

 

K

To the non-Amharic ear, the letters that represent “k” and “q” sound the same. But to Amharic speakers, there’s a difference. So sometimes, when transliterating them, English spellings of the words are inconsistent. The issue tends to appear when translating the Amharic “q,” which is more often translated as a “k” than the other way around. I’ve tried to use the most common spellings for these two letters and will point out quirks and contradictions.

Kac Kac. The Somali version of dabo qolo. Pronounced “kaka.”

Kalanya. The Gwama word for wot, or stew.

Kantisha ቃንጥሻ. The Tigrinya word for inguday, or mushroom.

Karamela ከረሜላ. The Amharic word for candy. This word has also become slang in Addis Ababa to refer to chunks of raw meat (tere siga, gored gored). It’s a play on the word for candy because Ethiopians love raw meat so much and consider it to be like a bag of candy.

Karot ካሮት. Carrot.

Karya ቃሪያ. Jalapeño pepper.

Kashye ካሽዬ. A Gurage dish made by removing the stems and veins from gomen leaves (collard greens) and drying or dehydrating them, then grinding them into a fine powder with korarema and abish. You then combine the powder with ayib.

Kategna ቃተኛ. Lightly pan-toasted injera smeared with niter qibe that’s been infused with berbere. Sometimes offered as an appetizer at restaurants. Better spelled qategna, although it never is.

Katikala ካቲካላ. An Ethiopian distilled liquor, similar to areqe.

Kawlo. ካውሎ. The Tigrinya word for cabbage.

Kay ቀይ. Red. This word will often appear with a wot¸ for example, kay wot, meaning a spicy red stew. But it’s largely unnecessary: A wot is always red from the berbere. Better spelled qay, although it never is.

Kay Sir ቀይሥር. Beets. Literally, “red root.” Better spelled qay sir.

Kemila ከሚላ. A brand of white wine made in Ethiopia that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Keribo ቀሪቦ. A beverage made of fermented barley flour and sugar. Should be spelled qeribo in English but never is.

Kibe. See niter qibe.

Kik ክክ. Split. As in: atar kik alicha, split yellow peas in a mildly spiced stew.

Kikil. See qeqel.

Kilkil. See qilqil.

Kintot. See qintot.

Kita. See qita.

Kitel. Leaf ቅጠል. For example, gesho kitel, the leaf of the gesho plant, used to make t’ej and t’alla. Rarely spelled qitel, although the first letter of the Amharic spelling indicates that it should be.

Kitfo ክትፎ. Chopped ground beef, seasoned with niter qibe, mitmita and cardamom, served raw (tere). It can also be served slightly heated (lebleb) or fully cooked (yebesele).

Kochkocha ቆጭቆጫ. A dip or condiment made with finely chopped jalapeño peppers, some onion, and several spices. Should be spelled qochqocha but never is in English.

Kocho. See qocho.

Komidero ኮሚደሮ. The Tigrinya word for tomato.

Komtata ኮምጣጤ. This refers to injera that’s especially tangy and sour from fermentation. Some people like it that way, others don’t. It comes from the Amharic word for vinegar and to ferment.

Korarima ኮረሪማ. Cardamom. Also called Grain of Paradise by Ethiopians.

Koti. See qoti.

Kinche. See qinche.

Kolo. See qolo.

Kornis. ኮርኒስ. A dish of ground beef with gomen and ayib (and sometimes other things) piled on top of it into a mound. The word means ceiling, so perhaps this dish’s name suggests that its ingredients are piled high.

Koseret. ኮሰረት. A nettle-like African plant whose dried leaves are used as a spice, especially in making niter kibe.

Krenfud See qrenfud.

Kulalit ኩላሊት. Kidney.

Kulet ቁሌት. Wot sauce. This is onions cooked in niter qibe and spiced with berbere. It’s the foundation of all wot dishes.

Kulwa. See qulwa.

Kumu. The Dime word for bread.

Kundo Berbere. See qundo berbere.

Kurkurfa. ኩርኩርፋ. A porridge-like paste made with the leaves of the moringa plant (Moringa stenopetala) and such grains as sorghum, maize, millet or barley, popular among southern Ethiopian cultures like the Oromo, Sidama, Konso and Gamu-Gofa.

Kurs. See qurs.

Kurt. See qurt.

Kwon. A dish of mashed and heated cornmeal eaten by the remote Anuak people of southwest Ethiopia.

 

L

Laslasa ለስላሳ. Literally, to be smooth or become smooth. It can refer to a sweet drink, perhaps a soft drink (soda) or juice, or a very sweet t’ej.

Laxoox or Lahooh. One of the Somali words for injera. See also canjeero and anjero. This Somali version of injera is bubbly on top and smooth on the bottom but made with white flour and not fermented.

Lebleb ለበለበ. Lightly heated, lightly cooked.

Letenachin ለጤናችን. The Ethiopian toast, it means “to our health.”

Litlit. ለጠለጠ. A paste made from crushed and roasted nug (niger) seeds, often added to an thin, flat, unleavened bread like kita, which is then made into the shape of a fist. Also the name for the finished bread itself. Some recipes add berbere, and some use sesame seed paste rather than nug paste. Ethiopian parents in some regions and cultures will sometimes feed this to their weaning children. It’s also eaten as a snack or during a coffee ceremony. This food preserves well, so it’s often eaten as “journey food” by travelers or shepherds, and soldiers would take some with them during war campaigns. Called hisyo or chibito in some Ethiopian cultures and languages.

Lomi ሎሚ. Lemon.

Losay. The Mursi word for bread.

Lotay. The Suri word for bread.

 Lukkuu The Afaan Oromo word for chicken.

 
M

Maadi. መኣዲ. The Tigrinya word for a traditional meal eaten from a common platter, like the Amharic gebeta.

Maala. The Sidama word for siga, or meat.

Mabaya. ማባያ. Some restaurants use this word to mean appetizer. It’s a variation of meblat, an Amharic word that means to eat.

Mabel. መብል. A less commonly used Amharic word for food. See megeb.

Mahaberawi ማኅበራዊ. A term for a platter with many dishes intended to be shared.

Maksas መክሰስ. A snack or small meal.

Mana Nyaata. The Afaan Oromo word for restaurant – literally, “food house.” See also megeb bet.

Manteria ማንጠሪያ. Butter spice. When Indians clarify butter – that is, gently boil it until the milk solids separate from the fatty oil – they add no spices, but the Ethiopian version, niter qibe, adds lots of them. Manteria is a term that refers to the blend of spices you mix and put into the butter while it’s clarifying. You can also call this by the more generic term ye’qibe qemam, literally, butter spice.

Mankiya ማንኪያ. Spoon. Although Ethiopians don’t use cutlery to eat, they must use spoons to enjoy soup or broth. The Gurage also use long-handled wooden spoons to eat kitfo.

Mapo. A bread made by the Opuuo (T’apo) culture of southern Ethiopia (bordering South Sudan). The word literally means “food of the people” (the culture refers to itself as Po). Using whatever grain they have available, they knead the dough three times – with a different word for each kneading – and roll it into a ball, which is then fried, although the inside remains only partially cooked and moist. They then tear off pieces, and if wot is available, use the bread to scoop up the wot. Missionaries introduced moringa to the culture, so now the Po put some moringa into the dough as a healthy additive.

Mar ማር. Honey.

Marqaa. The Afaan Oromo word for genfo, a barley porridge.

Masobla መሶብላ. The Harari word for mesob.

Masooblaa. The Afaan Oromo word for mesob.

Mashla ማሽላ. Sorghum.

Matat መጠጥ. Beverage.

Matatamiya ማጣጣሚያ. An Amharic word sometimes used to refer to dessert. It comes from a verb that means to balance or make balanced.

Maye ማይ. The Tigrinya word for water.

Megeb ምግብ. Food.

Megeb Bet ምግብ ቤት. Restaurant, literally “food house.” Some Ethiopian restaurants in America will write megeb bet in Amharic after their names, and some will simply spell out “restaurant” in Amharic letters.

Mekelesha መከለሻ. A blend of spices used to add extra flavor to a wot, stirred in when the dish is fully cooked and just about ready to be served.

Memegebia ምምግብያ. General term for a small basket – smaller than a full mesob.

Menkeshkesh መንከሽከሽ. The Tigrinya word for biret mitad.

Merek መረቅ. Broth.

Mes ሜስ. The Tigrinya word for t’ej, or honey wine.

Mesa ምሳ. Lunch.

Mesheta Bet ምሽታ ቤት. From the Amharic word meaning to brew or distill, this refers generally to any drinking establishment in Ethiopia. You can get t’ej, t’alla, katikala and more at such a place.

Mesite. መስተ. The Tigrinya word for beverage.

Mesob መሶብ. A large colorful woven basket with a tall pointed lid and hole in the center. People sit around a mesob at mealtime with the food on a gebeta in the center.

Meta ሜታ. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad.

Metin Shiro ምጥን ሽሮ. Literally, measured shiro. See shiro.

Michirra. The Afaan Oromo word for chika, a barley porridge.

Miinz Meetsa. The Shinasha (Boro) word for beef.

Milas ምላስ. Tongue. You can make a wot out of beef tongue

Minchet Abish ምንቸት አብሽ. A dish of chopped beef cooked in niter qibe and spices. Abish is the Amharic word for fenugreek.

Misir ምስር. Lentil.

Misha. The Shinasha (Boro) word for injera.

Misto ሚስቶ. A dish with a mix of meats. Another translation may be casserole.

Mitmita ሚጥሚጣ. A very hot Ethiopian red pepper powder used in a few dishes (such as kitfo) or as a dip on the side to make food hotter. It’s also the Amharic name for the pepper used to make it. In English, we would call it a serrano pepper. See also berbere.

Mitad ምጣድ. The devised used for making injera. It’s large, round and flat, heated by wood or coals from beneath, or with electricity in the modern version.

Mixashsho. The Sidama word for mitad.

Mogogo ምጎጎ. The Tigrinya word for mitad.

Moringa. ሽፈራው ዛፍ A plant that produces edible leaves used in various foods and dishes, especially among southern Ethiopian cultures like the Oromo, Sidama, Konso and Gamu-Gofa. Ethiopians also use the seeds to purify water and the whole plant for medicinal purposes. Sometimes called the cabbage tree. The Amharic name is shfaraw zaf.

Mudai ሙዳይ. A small mesob.

Mugera. A bread made by the Oromo culture of Ethiopia. Baked like a chumbo, it’s the Oromo version of a defo dabo.

Mulmul ሙልሙል. A small dabo for kids at the holidays. You can wrap it in enset leaves and put it in the embers for a crusty bread with the taste of the embers. Made for the Ethiopian holiday Buhe.

Mutabak. ሙተባቅ. The Adare (Harari) name for a dish of sesame seeds, honey and butter, prepared in the Arab-influenced Moslem cultures of Ethiopia in Harar and Dire Dawa. It’s often formed into a ball after roasting or sun-drying the sesame, then crushing it with a mortar and pestle. The bride who is not a virgin (i.e., a widow) will eat this at her wedding. Also called dalan.

Mutuk. The Afar word for butter.

Muz ሙዝ. Banana.

 

N

Neb ንብ. Bee.

Neb Qafo የንብ ቀፎ. Beehive. Actually, the Amharic says “ye’neb qafo,” that is, “hive of the bee.” But this entry fits better here after neb.

Nech Azmud ነጭ አዝሙድ. Bishop’s weed, ajowan or Ethiopian caraway seeds (it goes by all three names). Literally “white cumin.” See also tikur azmud.

Nech Shinkurt ነጭ ሽንኩርት. Garlic. Literally, “white onion.” See also shinkurt.

Nech Shiro ነጭ ሽሮ. Literally, “white shiro.” This is a milder form of shiro.

Ngernay. The Suri word for butter.

Ngorrne. The Mursi word for butter.

Nigest Honey Wine ንግሥት የማር ጠጅ. A brand of t’ej made in Ethiopia. You can sometimes find it sold at Ethiopian markets and restaurants in the United States.

Niter Qibe ንጥር ቅቤ. Ethiopian clarified and spiced butter, similar to the Indian ghee. Sometimes written niter kibe.

Nug ኑግ. Niger seed (Guizotia abyssinica), used for its oil and in various dishes and drinks. First cultivated in the Ethiopian highlands. Sometimes written noog.

Nyaata. The Afaan Oromo word for food.

 

O

Ocholoni ኦቾሎኒ. Peanut.

 

P

Paka. The Gwama word for injera.

Pasti ፓስቲ. A ball of fried dough, lightly dusted with sugar, eaten as a dessert or snack. Similar to a chornaki.

 

Q

To the non-Amharic ear, the letters that represent “k” and “q” sound the same. But to Amharic speakers, there’s a difference. So sometimes, when transliterating them, English spellings of the words are inconsistent. The issue tends to appear when translating the Amharic “q,” which is more often translated as a “k” than the other way around. I’ve tried to use the most common spellings for these two letters and will point out quirks and contradictions.

Qaanxaa. The Afaan Oromo word for quanta, or beef jerky.

Qanta ቃንጣ. The Harari word for quanta, or beef jerky.

Qäräfa ቀረፋ. Cinnamon.

Qemam ቅመም. Spice.

Qeqel or Kikil ቀቀለ. Boiled. This can refer to a broth, sometimes with meaty bones, but sometimes with just vegetables.

Qezqaza Megeb ቀዝቃዛ ምግብ. Literally, “cold food.” This is a modern addition to Ethiopian urban cuisine, often served on buffets along side western food. It’s a root vegetable salad – perhaps beets, potatoes, carrots – served chilled with a vinaigrette dressing. Also called berd mebel, again literally “cold food,” just using two different Amharic words for “cold” and “food.”

Qibe ቅቤ. Butter. See niter qibe.

Qilqil or Kilkil ቅልቅል. Mixture, as in kilkil atakilt (mixed vegetables).

Qita ቂጣ. Sometimes called an Ethiopian pizza because it’s round and flat. This is made by mixing flour (barley, teff, wheat) with water and then cooking it on a hot surface. When it’s cooked, you smear the top with niter qibe infused with berbere. If you chop it up into little pieces, it’s called chechebsa.

Qinche ቅንጬ. A cracked wheat porridge. Also written kinche.

Qintot ቅንጦት. The Amharic word for luxury. Some menus will use this word to describe a dish with lots of meat, considered to be a mark of high living. Also written kintot.

Qocho ቆጮ. The trunk of the enset plant, finely chopped into a moist meal, then fermented in the ground and later formed into thin, chewy, tangy bread-like pieces. This is an important food in southern Ethiopian cultures.

Qolo ቆሎ. Roasted barley kernels, eaten as a snack. Sometimes spelled kolo.

Qomodo. The Sidama word for quanta, or beef jerky.

Qorosho. ቆሮሾ. The Tigrinya word for dirkosh.

Qosta ቆስጣ. Spinach.

Qoti ቆቲ. Coffee leaves, used to make tea or as an ingredient in shai qemam. Often spelled koti.

Qrenfud ቅርንፉድ. Cloves.

Qualima ቋሊማ. Sausage.

Quanta ቋንጣ. Ethiopian beef jerky – that is, dried spicy beef strips and pieces.

Qulwa ቅልዋ. The Tigrinya word for tibs, or fried meat. Sometimes spelled kulwa. In Tigrinya, tibs are also called tibsi.

Qundo Berbere ቁንዶ በርበሬ. Black pepper. Qundo means “main,” and back before Ethiopians had chili peppers to make berbere, black pepper spiced their food.

Qurs ቁርስ. Breakfast. Sometimes written kurs.

Qurt ቁርጥ. Raw beef served in long strips. To eat the beef, you place one end of the strip into your mouth and use a knife to cut a chunk off as close to your lips as you dare. Sometimes written kurt.

 

R

Rabaw ራበው. A verb that means to be hungry. Rab ራብ is a noun that means hunger.

Rekebot ረከቦት. A table used for serving coffee, with the jebena and sini placed on top.

Rift Valley. A line of red and white wines made in Ethiopia that are also exported and sold abroad. The brand is owned by Castel Winery and produces a merlot (ሜርሎ), a syrah (ሲራ), a cabernet sauvignon (ካቤርኔ ሶቪኞ) and a chardonnay (ሻርዶኔ). There is no Amharic name for this brand. The company simply spells out the four varieties in Ethiopic letters on the labels.

Ruz ሩዝ. Rice.

 

S

Sahn ሳሕን. Plate (dinnerware).

St. George ቅዱስ ጊዮችጊስ. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad. The company makes a lager and an amber. The name in Amharic is Kedus Giorgis.

Salata ሰላጣ. Salad.

Salit ሰሊጥ. Sesame, or sesame seed, used in Ethiopia to produce oils and pastes for cooking and recipes.

Sambusa ሳምቡሳ. A small, usually triangle-shaped dish of fried dough filled with lentils or meat, usually spicy. It’s sometimes offered as an appetizer at Ethiopian restaurants.

Samma ሳማ. An Ethiopian species of nettle, a thorny and bitter plant, cooked into a gomen-like wot by some Ethiopian cultures.

Senafich ሰናፍጭ. Mustard.

Sedano ሴዳኖ. Celery.

Sefed ሰፌድ. A large round piece of thatched basketwork that slips under a piece of injera on a mitad to remove it smoothly.

Sember ስምበር. A part of the stomach, served in a few restaurants. See also chagwara and tripa.

Sende ስንዴ. Wheat.

Seri. ሰሪ. The Adare (Harari) name for a thick bread served with coffee, prepared in the Arab-influenced Moslem cultures of Ethiopia in Harar and Dire Dawa. Sometimes written siri.

Skwar ስኳር. Sugar. Sometimes spelled sekwar.

Shahi ሻሂ. The Tigrinya word for tea, similar to the Amharic shai.

Shai ሻይ. Tea. Ye’shai karatit means teabag የሻይ ከረጢት.

Shai Qemam ሻይ ቅመም. Literally, “tea spice.” Think of this as the Ethiopian teabag, a blend of spices used to flavor tea (shai). You can make your tea with just the spices, or you can put them into black tea. Shai qemam tends to be expensive when you buy it “mixed” in an Ethiopian market, so just mix some yourself: cardamom pods, cloves and a cinnamon stick – use proportions to suit your taste.

Shefinfin ሽፍንፍን. To hide, cover, or covered up. Some Ethiopian restaurants offer a dish by this name. During fasting season, when Ethiopians can’t eat meat, some people will get meat and then cover it up with acceptable vegetarian dishes. This is so friends and the church won’t know they’re cheating.

Shent Tibs ሽንጥ ጥብስ. Shent means “side of the body,” so this meaty dish is the equivalent of rib-eye.

Shimbra ሽምብራ. Chick pea. This word refers to the smaller brownish chick peas found in Ethiopia. The larger white chick peas are sometimes referred to as shimbra dube. The word in Amharic for pumpkin is duba, so shimbra dube emphasizes the larger size of the shimbra.

Shimbra Asa ሽምብራ ዓሣ. Literally, “chick pea fish.” This dish, often served during fasting holidays when Ethiopians eat no meat, consists of forming chick pea dough into little fish-shaped pieces, then frying them and blending them into a spicy kulet.

Shakla Dist ሸክላ ድስ. Literally, “clay pot,” used for cooking.

Sheko. The Sidama word for genfo, a porridge.

Shesheerama. The Sidama word for zilzil.

Shegurti ሽጉርቲ. The Tigrinya word for onion.

Shinkurt ሽንኩርት. Onion. In cooking, Ethiopians prefer to use kay shinkurt, literally, “red onion,” or what we call shallots. But the typical larger American red onion is often used – just not white or yellow onions.

Shiro ሽሮ. A dish made of chick peas or yellow peas blended with spices. It’s often called metin shiro, where metin means measured, indicating that you must measure just the right amount of spices to create the blend. The peas are dried and turned into a flour to which spices are added. The mixture is then reconstituted in water and heated until it thickens. Nech shiro is mild (nech means white), and metin shiro is spicy and red from the addition of berbere.

Shorba ሾርባ. Soup.

Shuhum. The Adare (Harari) name for grains boiled in water, prepared in the Arab-influenced Moslem cultures of Ethiopia in Harar and Dire Dawa. .

Shungurta. The Shinasha (Boro) word for onion.

Shureba ሹሩባ. A nickname for a berele, used by avid t’ej drinkers, referring to its long neck. It’s meant to evoke long-necked Ethiopian women with shureba hair styles.

Sibko. ስብቆ. The Tigrinya word for atmit, a porridge.

Sidama ሲዳማ. A type of Ethiopian coffee, named for the Sidama region of southern Ethiopia.

Siga ሥጋ. Beef.

Siga Bet ሥጋ ቤት. Literally, “meat house,” that is, a butcher shop, and also usually a place where you can get dishes – like a wot, kitfo or tere siga – prepared with beef or lamb.

Siga Tibs ሥጋ ጥብስ. A dish of lean beef fried in niter qibe, usually with onions, jalapeños and spices.

Siljo ስልጆ. A shiro-like puree made from powdered fava beans and spices.

Silsi ስልሲ. Tomatoes stewed with onions, oil and berbere. This is the Tigrinya and Eritrean version of kulet. It’s eaten as a side dish, or you can cook a wot in it.

Sini ሲኒ. A small cup used to serve coffee.

Sinig ሰነገ. A jalapeño pepper stuffed with onions or lentils.

Sik Sik. This is siga wot, but it’s a tightly packed dish, with more meat than anything else, and not a lot of water.

Solim. The Dime word for injera.

Spris ስፕሪስ. A thick colorful juice mix that usually has three different ingredients arranged in layers served in a tall glass, something new in Ethiopia. The ingredients can be avocado, orange, papaya, mango, guava, avocado, pineapple and more.

Sum. The Gwama word for meat.

Suuqar. The Somali word for tibs, or fried meat. Somali cooking uses beef (hilibka lo’da) or chicken (digaag).

Suwa ስዋ. The Tigrinya word for t’alla, a homemade grain beer.

 

T

Taba ታባ. A small clay serving dish, especially used for serving kitfo.

Taita ታይታ. The Tigrinya word for injera.

Takatay Megeb ተከታይ ምግብ. A term sometimes used to describe dessert. Literally, “follow(ing} the meal.”

T’alla ጠላ. Ethiopian traditional beer made with grains and hops. Sometimes spelled talla or t’ella.

Tafach ጣፋጭ. Sweets. There are no desserts native to Ethiopian cuisine, so Ethiopians might use this word to indicate an after-dinner pastry or dessert of any kind. The word can also mean delicious.

Tafii. The Afaan Oromo word for teff.

Tay ጣይ. The Harari word for lamb.

Tegabino ተጋቢኖ . A special shiro served bubbling hot in a shakla dist.

Tena Adam. ጤና አዳም. An Ethiopian rue, often called the herb of grace. The name literally means “the health of Adam” or “the health of mankind.”

Tesmi ጠስሚ. The Tigrinya word for butter.

Telba ተልባ. Flax seeds. Also a drink made of ground flax seeds mixed with water and honey

T’ej ጠጅ. Ethiopian wine made with honey. It’s called mes in Tigrinya and daaddi in Afaan Oromo. In Ethiopia, t’ej is simply the word that Amharic uses to mean “wine.” If you want Western-style grape wine, you ask for wayn t’ej, where wayn is the Amharic word for grape, just as you would ask for “honey wine” in English, where “wine” means grape wine. Often spelled simply tej.

T’ej Bet ጠጅ ቤት. Literally, “t’ej house,” a bar where the primary (perhaps only) beverage you can buy is t’ej.

Tena Adam ጤና አዳም. Rue. This translates literally as “the health of Adam.” Its leaves and twigs help to flavor ergo, ayib and sometimes even berbere. The berries, boiled in water, can make a tea.

Teff ጤፍ. A gluten-free grain native to Ethiopia, and the smallest grain in the world – one piece is the size of a grain of sand – it’s used in Ethiopia to make injera. Restaurants outside of Ethiopia will mix teff with other flours (wheat, barley) to make injera.

Tema. The Shinasha (Boro) word for zilzil, or meat cut into strips for roasting.

Tere Siga ጥሬ ሥጋ. Literally, raw meat. See also qurt, kitfo, brindo.

Tibs ጥብስ. Fried, usually fried meat.

Tibsi ጥብሲ. The Tigrinya word for tibs, or fried meat. In Tigrinya, tibs are also called qulwa (sometimes spelled kulwa).

Tihlo ጥሕሎ. Roasted barley balls that you dip in kulet that’s been topped with ayib. This dish comes to the table from northern Ethiopia.

Tihni ጥሕኒ. The Tigrinya name for beso.

Tikur Azmud ጥቁር አዝሙድ. Cumin.

Timatim ቲማቲም. Tomato.

Timtimo See tumtumo.

Tikil Gomen ጥቅል ጎመን . Cabbage. A stew of this name is cabbage cooked in onions, usually with carrots and sometimes jalapeño peppers.

Tila. The Mursi word for food or porridge.

Tosegn ጦስኝ. A native Ethiopian spice similar to thyme.

Tripa ትሪፓ. Tripe – that is, the stomach of a cow, sometimes served in a wot or in dulet. See also chagwara and sember.

Tsada shegurti ጻዕዳ ሽጉርቲ. The Tigrinya word for garlic. Like the Amharic nech shinkurt, it literally means “white onion.”

Tseba ጸባ. The Tigrinya word for mil.

Tsebhi ጸብሕ. The Tigrinya word for wot, a thick spicy stew.

T’som ጾመ. Fast – that is, not eating. The most devout Ethiopian Christians have more than 200 fasting days, during which they don’t eat until midday and eat no meat. Less devout people follow this fast during the Lenten season. The term t’som megeb means fasting food – that is, vegetarian dishes. Fasika is the Amharic word for Easter, and on that holiday, they can eat meat again. Fasaka means to break the Lenten meatless fast, and ye’t’som fasik means a meal that breaks the fast by eating meat – lots of it.

Tuk Tuk ቱቀ ቱቀ. A phrase Ethiopians may use to describe the sound of a stew bubbling on the stove.

Tumtumo ቱምቱሞ. The Tigrinya name for misir wot, a spicy red lentil stew. Sometimes written timtimo.

  

U

Ukat ኡኻት. The Harari word for injera.

 

W

Waaddii. The Afaan Oromo word for tibs, or fried meat.

Waasa. The Sidama word for qocho.

Wagamit ወገሚት. Buttermilk.

Wakalim ወቃሊም. A spicy Ethiopian sausage made in the Moslem-influenced Harari region of Ethiopia.

Walia ዋልያ. A brand of Ethiopian bottled beer that’s also exported and sold abroad. A walia is a type of Ethiopian antelope.

Walmaka. The Afaan Oromo word for beyayenetu, a combination platter of dishes, usually all vegetarian.

Wanya. The Gwama word for chicken.

Warqii. The Afaan Oromo word for enset.

Wat. See Wot.

Watat ወተት. Milk.

Watela ወጠላ. A type of spiced Ethiopian beef jerky.

Wayn T’ej ወይን ጠጅ. Wine, or literally, “grape wine.” The national drink of Ethiopia is t’ej, a wine made of honey, and that’s the generic word that Ethiopians use for wine. In Ethiopia, when you ask for “wine,” you’ll get this honey wine, just as you’ll get a grape wine in America if you ask for wine. If you want “honey wine” in America, you have to ask specifically for that (also called mead). If you want “grape wine” in Ethiopia, then likewise, you must ask for wayn t’ej.

Weese. The Sidama word for enset.

Wet. See Wot.

Wohu. The Dime word for meat.

Wot ወጥ. A spicy stew of meat or vegetables. The sauce for the stew consists of finely chopped onions, berbere and other spices of the chef’s choice. Sometimes spelled wat, wet or w’et.

Wuha ውኃ. Water.

 

X

Xafi ዛፊ. A grain grown in the south of Ethiopia and used by Oromo culture, sometimes to make budeena.

 

Y

Ye . A form of the Amharic preposition “of.” Some restaurants will use this in the name of their dishes. For example: yemisir wot, a spicy stew of lentils.

Ye’aasama Siga የዐሣማ ሥጋ. Pork (literally, pig meat). Ethiopian Christians and Moslems don’t eat pork, but some Protestants and Catholics in Ethiopia do.

Yebesele የበሰለ. Fully cooked.

Ye’megeb asrare የምግብ አሠራር. Recipe. Literally, “preparation of food.” See also azegajajet.

Ye’qibe Qemam የቅቤ ቅመም. Literally, butter spice. See manteria.

Ye Wend Alicha የወንድ አልጫ. This Amharic expression means “an alicha of a man.” Alicha is a mildly spiced dish, so the phrase implies that the man can’t handle hot spicy foods. It’s the Ethiopian version of a culinary wimp.

Yirgacheffe ይርጋጨፌ. A type of Ethiopian coffee, named for a town in southern Ethiopia.

 

Z

Zayt ዘይት. Cooking oil.

Zemamujet ዘማሙጅት. A Gurage dish of finely chopped gomen (collard greens) mixed with ayib, korarema, abish, mitmita and qibe, sometimes served with qocho.

Zet. The Gwama word for a hot pepper.

Zibib. A brand of Eritrean liquor flavored with anise, essentially an Eritrean ouzo, made by Asmara Brewery. You can sometimes find it in Eritrean restaurants in the United States. Although the company doesn’t write the name in Tigrinya on the label, zabib ዘቢብ is the word for raisin.

Zigni ዝግኒ. A thick spicy beef stew, like siga wot. Sometimes written zighini. It can also be called tsebhi siga.

Zilbo ዚለቦ. A thicker wot – more meat, thicker sauce – made with zilzil meat. It can be mixed with gomen.

Zilzil ዝልዝል. This refers to meat cut into long strips. Zilzil tibs is long strips of beef, pan fried with onions and jalapeño peppers.

Zinjibel ዝንጅብል. Ginger.

Zof ዞፍ. Egg white.

Zuhuq. ዙሑቅ. The Adare (Harari) name for, a very thin bread made of whole wheat flour, prepared in the Arab-influenced Moslem cultures of Ethiopia in Harar and Dire Dawa. The bride at a wedding eats this because it symbolizes femininity. Appropriately, the man eats wakalim (sausage), which symbolizes masculinity.

Harry Kloman
University of Pittsburgh

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: