24 Most Popular Foods to Eat in Eritrea

If you’re planning a trip to Africa, you must include Eritrea on your itinerary. Along with stunning scenery, the country offers delectable cuisine. Eritrean cuisine is prepared using old and traditional techniques. These techniques, however, are heavily influenced by other regions.

As a result, most of its dishes are similar to those found in African countries. Furthermore, its foods complement Italian and Ethiopian cuisines.

24 Most Popular Foods to Eat in Eritrea

1. Shahan Ful

Shahan ful is typically eaten for breakfast. This delicious Eritrean traditional dish is cooked slowly. The key ingredient in this recipe is fava beans, which are boiled until soft. Other ingredients include onions, berbere spices, tomatoes, lemon juice, and chili peppers. Yogurt is also used as a garnish by some people.

2. Zigini

Zigini is a traditional meaty and flavorful stew. Various spices are used in the preparation of this dish. In the local language, this combination of spices is known as berbere. These spices are cooked in tomatoes until a distinct flavor emerges.

3. Hamli

Sauteed collard greens are included in the hamli. First, the ingredients are steamed. Different ingredients, such as garlic, oil, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and parsley, are added when tendered. Hamli is served with injera bread after it has been prepared, and the locals enjoy the combination of both delicious foods.

4. Alicha Birsen

Alicha birsen is the most effective treatment for vegans. It is one of Eritrea’s spiciest and most delicious vegetarian dishes. It’s a lentil curry flavored with the popular berbere spice. These spices are slowly cooked with tomatoes and onions.

5. Fata

Fata is a popular meal or snack dish in Eritrea. The procedure is extremely straightforward. First, we make a stew for the fata. Fata stew is made by sautéing red onion and tomato until cooked, then adding pepper. The fata stew is then added to sliced bread and mashed with spoons. Fasting Fata is made with sliced bread and stew, while non-fasting Fata includes yogurt and eggs.

6. Shlsi

Another popular tasty and healthy breakfast is scrambled eggs with pepper. This dish is simple to prepare and is typically served during non-fasting periods. It is typically prepared with an egg, onion, tomato, and pepper. We add yogurt, unripe tomatoes, unripe onions, chilis, and lemons to the special Enquaqho shlsi.

7. Ge’at

Ge’at is a popular breakfast dish in Eritrea. Porridge is made by combining flour and warm water and cooking it until it is done. After cooling, a deep well is formed in the center and filled with a sautéed mixture of pepper, butter, curd, or cheese. The curd and butter are omitted during fasting periods. The color of porridge varies depending on the flour used, such as wheat (the most common), barley, sorghum, buckwheat, and taff.

8. Tsebhi Derho

It’s not an exaggeration to say that tsebhi derho is one of Eritrea’s most popular dishes. It is not made daily but is served to honor a loved one or when guests arrive. It is regarded as a symbol of a hardworking woman, and mothers ensure their daughters learn how to make it so that their neighbors do not mock them. The onions, tomato, pepper, and oil are cooked together first, with butter added when serving to guests, and then the chicken is added. When it’s done, it’s topped with boiled eggs.

The most important accompaniment is injera, with bread served on the side.

9. Zigini with Injera

Zigini with injera is a traditional Eritrean dish made up of two components: zigini, a spicy stew made with berbere spices and beef or lamb cubes, and injera, a flatbread cooked on a griddle or on a stone. Cooks use cubed meat, oil, onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, berbere spices, and cilantro for garnish when making zigini. The stew is traditionally served over flatbread, but injera can also be used as a utensil to consume this spicy stew.

10. Kulwa

Kulwa is a popular Eritrean dish of lamb or beef chunks fried with berbere spices, ghee, tomatoes, and onions. Traditionally, the dish is served with rice or injera flatbread on the side to mop up the delicious sauce. It’s best paired with tej, a traditional honey wine.

11. Qeyh Tsebhi

Qeyh means red in Tigrinya, and the name is derived from that. Red stew, almost as popular as tsebhi derho, is frequently eaten for lunch or dinner. Qeyh tsebhi is prepared similarly to chicken stew. Cook the onion, tomato, and pepper first, then add the chopped meat and continue to cook until done. Red stew is a delicious meal when served with injera.

12. Shiro

This is one of Eritrea’s most popular cultural dishes, often served during fasting and by the Orthodox on Wednesdays and Fridays, as these are their fasting days. Shiro is a Japanese dish made from ground beans, chickpeas, or peas. To improve the flavor, spices such as garlic and ginger are added. Cooked onion, tomato, oil, and water are combined with shro powder and served with injera. Shiro is more popular in the winter because it contains chilis.

13. Tsebhi Birsen

Tsebhi birsen is another popular fasting food, particularly in rural Eritrea. Cooking lentils with onions, tomatoes, garlic, pepper, and oil results in this dish. This dish is a popular fast food and party food in both the countryside and the city.

14. Tsebhi Dinich

Another fasting dish, particularly in rural areas, is tsebhi dinich. After thoroughly washing the potatoes, they are added to a stew of onion, tomato, pepper, and oil. It is common to add garlic after cooking to enhance the flavor.

15. Pasta

Eritrea is well-known for its long history with Italy. As a result, the Italian influence is visible when discussing the country’s cuisine. Pasta, pizza, and lasagna are commonly consumed in various cafes. These cafes typically serve traditional Italian cuisine with an African twist.

16. Kicha Fitfit

Kicha fit fit is a delicacy made from torn pieces of injera bread or unleavened Kicha. The torn pieces are generally cooked in the local berbere spice with other ingredients such as onions and clarified butter.

Typically served for breakfast or as a snack, it is a great way to use up leftover flatbread of any kind. The dish is typically eaten with plain yogurt on top.

17. Camel Burger

Camel burgers are simply burgers made from camel meat, and they are most popular in countries with a large camel population.

The meat from the hump is the most delicious, but all of the meat is lean, high in protein, and lower in cholesterol than other red meats. The flavor is similar to beef, with a slightly sweeter aftertaste.

18. Mies/Tej – Eritrean Honey Wine

Tej is popular among homemakers because it only requires three basic ingredients: honey, water, and Rhamnus prinoides.

Tej was only available to the King and his entourage in the early 1900s, but it is now widely available commercially. The locals will pour wine into a flask-like pitcher to serve their guests. The yellow color will catch people’s attention right away.

19. Makleel 

The tourists call it “Eritrean doughnuts,” and the locals call it “Makleel.”

The ingredients in this food are not particularly unique; however, you will notice a gently sweet taste from honey rather than sugar, as in other doughnuts. Its texture and flavor will entice you when you bite into it. The crunchiness on the outside and softness on the inside will create a fun symphonic experience in your mouth.

You can order a bowl of honey to dip each doughnut individually or drizzle honey directly on them.

20. Taita/Injera 

Injera is a flatbread made from teff or sorghum flour. It is a sour fermented pancake-like flatbread with a slightly spongy texture. This bread is naturally gluten-free and is typically served with zigini.

Injera is commonly served on a large plate and is known to be light on the stomach. Injera is thought to be a type of food that brings people together as they sit around the plate and eat it.

21. Panettone 

Panettone is not a traditional Eritrean dish. It is the perfect combination of Italian and Eritrean cuisines.

The Italians first arrived in Eritrea in 1869 and left in 1941. They left behind not only their unique structures but also their cuisine. The Eritreans, however, do not replicate the original recipes; they modify and add “Eritrean colors” to them. Panettone is a type of sweet bread from Italy. It is commonly served at Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

22. Doro Wat

Doro wat is among the most popular African stews, typically cooked in a berbere spice mixture. The stew is made with a whole chicken in a traditional tomato and onion base that is simmered for a long time to enhance the dish’s flavor.

Doro wat is typically served with injera bread and has a spicy flavor. Finally, boiled eggs are added to the dish as a finishing touch. It is widely available in almost every Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant.

23. Suwa and Mes

Suwa is made by fermenting millet and other grains. This beverage has a truly distinct flavor that is unforgettable. Mes is made from sweetened honey and goes well with regional cuisine.

24. Coffee

The coffee is taken very seriously by the locals. It is surely an honor to participate in such a ceremony, usually reserved for family and friends. Grass and a few wildflowers have been spread out on the ground where people will be seated. The woman of the household usually conducts the ceremony. Fresh green beans are roasted over a flame until the coffee’s distinctive aroma is achieved. The ground coffee is then steeped in liquid over a flame. When the brew is ready, the hostess pours it into multiple cups using a special jug. It’s a pleasure to watch the pouring.

Eritrea is one of the few cities where social media has not been impacted. Visiting the country is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with incredible islands and attractions to discover. We hope this list of traditional foods will assist you in preparing for your culinary adventure there!

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