Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, served on top of injera, a large sourdough “pancake” made out of fermented teff flour. Ethiopians eat with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrees and side dishes. No utensils are used.
Traditional Ethiopian cuisine does not include pork. There are a number of vegetarian dishes, because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church prescribes fasting periods on Wednesdays, Fridays, and the period of Lent. This has also led Ethiopian cooks to develop a rich array of cooking oil sources: besides Sesame and safflower, Ethiopian cuisine also uses nug (also spelled noog, known also as niger seed). Ethiopian restaurants are a popular choice for vegetarians living in Western countries.
Ethiopian cuisine is also known for its spiciness. A publication of the Ethiopian Ministry of Education listed a number of spices grown in Ethiopia in 1954, which include fenugreek, cumin, basil, coriander, ginger, saffron, mustard, cardamom, “Red pepper” (Capsicum annuum) and thyme.