A traditional Ethiopian dish comprised of up to six different Ethiopian dishes, mahberawi is typical of this African country’s cuisine featuring spicy meats and a variety of vegetables. Mahberawi, like all Ethiopian cuisine, revolves around a spongy, oversized pancake called enjera. Made with teff, a fermented cereal flour tasting slightly sour, enjera serve as both cutlery and plates on which meat and stews are served. When eating mahberawi, Ethiopians tear off pieces of enjera and use these pieces to scoop of bites of food.
Influenced minimally by other nations, Ethiopia has retained a food culture that goes back thousands of years. Some time between the 13th and 15th centuries, European traders brought exotic spices to Ethiopia which modified the taste of Ethiopian food but not the contents of traditional dishes.
The reason why Ethiopian food is so spicy is that spices used help preserve food in a tropical climate where keeping food from spoiling is difficult.
What is Unique About Mahberawi?
Mahberawi is not just one dish but several dishes served together. About a month before Easter, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians will fast two days a week and consume only fruits and vegetables. Mahberawi served during this time will not contain beef but may contain fish. Restaurants operating in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa offer non-fasting and fasting versions of Mahberawi.
A hot and spicy paste used to flavor and preserve foods, berbere contains a variety of spices, onion and garlic. You can find the recipe for berbere here.
Doro wot is made of sliced hard-boiled eggs and chicken cooked in onions, butter and berbere. You will find doro wot placed in the middle of any mahberawi dish. Find the recipe for doro wot here.
Alicha Siga Wot
This is a meaty dish containing beef cubes and alicha kimem, an Ethiopian spice used in most meat stews.
The recipe for alicha siga wot is here.
Slices of beef or lamb pan-fried in tomato, onion, garlic and butter is called tibs, a dish often found on a plate of mahberawi. Kitfo, or minced beef seasoned or cooked with spicy butter, may be used in place of tibs.
Dry cottage cheese that Ethiopians call ayeb and gomen beseiga (a combination of beef slices cooked in butter with Ethiopian collard greens. Recipe here) round out the exciting, delicious experience of eating tradition mahberawi.
Mahberawi variations include using chicken instead of beef, substituting spices for other flavorings and making vegetarian mahberawi.