Adventures in Ethiopian Food

Last night, I went out for Ethiopian food with my friend Jackie!


I can actually only remember having Ethiopian once before — at a restaurant in D.C. with a bunch of my high school friends. That was years ago, so it was fun to try it again!

Jackie is my “nutrition buddy” in my program here at UNC — we’re each assigned a buddy in the year above us when we start here as a bit of a support system. We became quick friends and it’s been nice to have someone to ask advice of, especially regarding classes and internship options! I feel kind of like she’s my big sister in a sorority or something, haha, although I’m like 4 years older than her ;)


Jackie is great — they paired us because we both moved here from Arlington, VA! Our houses at home are literally only a few miles away. Weird! 


Last night, we hit up a place in Chapel Hill called Queen of Sheba for dinner. Here was our table — that hat lifted up and there was a large bowl underneath which is where they put our bread topped with food!


Ethiopian places are fun because you order a bunch of different little tastes of things and eat it by picking it up with small pieces of this spongy spread. It’s a strange consistency — kind of floppy like uncooked pizza dough? But super spongy and stretchy? We asked the waitress how they make it, but she didn’t know :)


Messy, but fun!


We had absolutely no idea what to order and wanted to try a variety of dishes, so the waitress recommended we order both a vegetarian sampler plate for 1 and a meat sampler plate for 1 to share. Perfect!


The vegetarian sampler included tomato salad, spicy potato salad, lentil salad, yellow split peas, and red lentils. Yum! The meat sampler included braised lamb, spicy ground beef, and marinated chicken on the bone, including a hard boiled egg (right in the foreground of the picture above this). The egg was actually really tasty with it, surprisingly!


Yum. Such a fun night :)

Have you ever had Ethiopian food? Do you like it? The spongy bread is the weirdest part for me — I feel like it would be better with pita bread, but that’s just because I like crispier, firmer bread!


In other news…

Please help a couple of my UNC Nutrition/Public Health classmates make a difference in fighting North Carolina childhood obesity!

The Institute of Emerging Issues has a contest going on right now that challenges student teams to design a sustainable, replicable program that combats the rising rates of childhood obesity here in North Carolina. My classmates came up with a program called The Little Red Wagon, which is a mobile market that would bring delicious fresh produce at affordable prices to food deserts and other communities with few resources and limited access to food. The truck will source produce from local farmers and produce suppliers to supply a steady stream of produce to families and kids who need it most. Volunteer staff will provide taste testing and recipe demonstrations to engage everyone in healthy cooking, and the market will also roll in with music, sports equipment, and games to engage children in physical activity and fun movement while their parents shop and visit.

Sounds awesome, right? The families of the pilot site community are so excited about the prospect of accessible, affordable healthy food that they even let their children help make the pitch video! Their video entry is pasted below — check it out, it’s super cute and creative and I love that they involved the kids in their target community. I sure hope they win… what an amazing (and necessary) idea.

Please help give them a chance to make their program a reality by voting for them HERE!

I just had an AWESOME early morning track speed workout with the girls — details to come tomorrow! For now, I’m off to class, and then spending the remainder of the day studying Biochem — we have our first test tomorrow, on carbohydrate digestion. Gah! It’s a LOT of material and I’m a bit nervous since Biochem isn’t exactly my strong point.

Have a good one!


  1. 1

    Hey girly! I love the idea of being paired up with a nutrition buddy! I wish my undergrad program at ECU at that…but I did meet my best friend, Kristi, during the Nutrition Program….but the really if you want to be sucessful and get through the nutrition program you really have to have a buddy!!!! I can remember stressful times I had during the program where I would have quit but my best friend kristi was there and we pushed each other along!!! Now, I am in the internship and love it! Next time I come to the chapel hill area, we will have to meet up!!! I love your project you are working on! Sounds fantastic!!!

  2. 2

    That spongy bread looks like beghrir, kind of like a Moroccan pancake. I love it! There’s an Ethiopian place less than a mile from my apartment — I’ve always wanted to try it out. Gonna go soon after I’ve seen this delicious spread!

  3. 3

    there’s an ethiopian restaurant near me, and it’s awesome. glad you ad a good time! good luck on your test. :)

  4. 4

    Wasn’t Queen of Sheeba awesome? I think it’s now one of my fave ethnic restaurants in town. Let me know if you ever want to go back and could use a buddy!

  5. 6

    I LOVE Ethiopian food!! I went out for some just the other night, and my plate picture looks very similar to yours! The injera bread is my favorite, it’s made with tiff flour (very high protein grain!) And is cooked with a method similar to making crepes/pancakes, except you don’t flip it! I love the stuff:) So glad you had fun, and their idea to fight obesity is truly amazing..someone’s gotta take action!:)

  6. 8

    I love, love, love Ethopian! So much more so that I thought I would!

  7. 9

    The properties of the teff flour basically allow it to ferment, which is why the bread is that texture. The batter sits for a few days to get nice and spongy. Kind of gross, but still delicious :-)

  8. 11

    That sounds like an awesome program! Good luck on your test – biochem is hard!

  9. 12

    I absolutely adore Ethiopian food. As a DC native I grew up munching on injera at Etete on 9th and U st. Someone told me that the U Street Corridor is home to so many folks from Ethiopia that there have been various campaigns to actually christen the neighborhood “Little Ethiopia”.

    So fantastic that you found Ethiopian in Chapel Hill.

  10. 14

    I have never had Ethiopian food but it looks tasty!

    The program sounds great! Such a good idea!

    Good luck with Biochem! You’ll be fine!

  11. 15

    I tried Ethiopian food for the first time in December, and oh my goodness! I absolutely love it! The spices are just so wonderful, and I really like the communal aspect of it!

  12. 16

    Just voted! Great program. And enjoyed the report on Ethiopian food night! Good luck on biochem…

  13. 17

    I love love love Ethiopian food – unfortunately, while traditional injera is 100% teff flour and therefore naturally gluten-free, most Ethiopian restaurants now use a mixture of teff and wheat flour to make injera, so I can’t have it (I am gluten-intolerant). I do love love love Ethiopian food though, and I plan to make my own this year.

  14. 19

    PS – I realize I could just order the food minus the injera, but language barriers usually make that a problem.

  15. 20

    I LOVE QUEEN OF SHEBA!!!! It’s the onyl Ethiopian place I’ve ever been to, but we went for a friend’s birthday last year and I was in love.

  16. 21

    I’ve actually only had Eritrean food, but it’s very similar to Ethiopian food. I usually go for the veggie sampler like you gals did, and I love it! My favorite is the lentils and pureer split peas. I don’t actually like the injera, so I always (sheepishly) ask for a fork. How did you enjoy the meat? I’ve only ever eaten vegetarian African food, so I’d love to try meat sometime. Three cheers for adventurous eating! :)

  17. 23

    YUM! I would love to try Ethiopian food! Was this your first time? Is it what you had expected?

  18. 25

    I have never had ethiopian food before, but it looks like so much fun!

  19. 26

    so fun! i just went to queen of sheba on saturday! DELICIOUS! AND there’s an awesome self serve fro you place in the same shopping center! i was basically staring out the window at it the entire meal :) glad you had fun!

  20. 28

    I friggen LOVE ethiopian food. LOVE IT. I crave it all the time. In LA all of the ethiopian restaurants are within 3 blocks of each other. It’s nuts.

  21. 29

    we have some ethiopian food places here in Austin and I’ve been wanting to try it! Now, I definitely will!

  22. 30

    Isn’t Ethiopian food interesting?? I went to a place once for a class as well and while eating with my hands was fun, the food was a little too funky for me!!

  23. 31

    I went to Queen of Sheba for the first time this past weekend. We sat at the same kind of table that was more like a basket, and ordered the exact same thing as yall. I agree, and would like it more if it was a pita bread, though was glad it wasn’t because I would have gotten full a lot faster if it wasn’t that thin spongy bread. And I felt the same way about the hard-boiled egg. The lamb was my favorite part of the meal.

  24. 32

    I love Ethiopian food, had it once while visiting a friend in Boulder, Colorado. Loved that injera ( bread) and all of the various dishes we tried. Just voted for Little red wagon. Love your blog!

  25. 34

    love, love, love Ethiopian food! had it for our wedding and it was great!!

  26. 35

    oh man, carbohydrate metabolism – i remember that biochem test! good luck – you’ll do fine! i really loved your friends’ program! it’s such an important issue – my research is on childhood obesity so it’s a topic near to my heart.

  27. 36

    No, I have never had Ethiopian food, but your photo’s make me want to try it.

  28. 37

    I voted for the Little Red Wagon yesterday. It is kind of difficult for me to really understand the need for government interference with kids obesity. I packed all of my kids and now my grandkids lunches and after lunch they all go out for recess. They also have after school sports activities. Maybe our kids are not the norm. I guess it is a good idea for some.Help Me.

    • 38

      If all families did what you did then we probably wouldn’t need community or government programs to help combat childhood obesity, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Especially in terms of kids living in “food deserts” (like the ones in the video) where there’s no available source of fresh produce, it’s a big problem. Urban areas can also be a problem because kids might not have anywhere safe to play outside. And unfortunately many parents don’t pack their children’s lunches and let their kids sit in front of the TV/computer/video games all day instead of playing outside.

      • 39

        You are right. We always rationed TV watching and I was always there to supervise what my kids did and now I have 2 of my 3 sons kids and their wives living with us while our son’s are serving the country. Our daughter’s in-law work and I have taken on the care of their kids. Love doing it. I have lived a rather sheltered life and I think everyone is doing as I do. That shows my ignorance. Thanks Anne. I appreciate your explanation. Love ya.

  29. 41

    Seriously good luck! I did not do well at all in biochem, but I know you will be able to rock it!!

  30. 42

    My boyfriend and I went to our local Ethiopian restaurant last week and got the exact same sampler platter – 1/2 vegetarian, 1/2 meat. We loved it!! He had issues with the bread consistency like you, but I liked it. I do think it would taste phenomenal with pita. Either way, it was yummy!!!

  31. 43

    Err…I’m with you in that I am not a fan of savory “spongy” carbs…I think Lavash bread sounds much yummier with that!! Everything else looks good though!

  32. 44
    Adventurer says:

    Great fun, Anne — and wanted you to know that I voted for the kids, too!

  33. 45

    i’ve never had ethiopian food! a new place just opened up in our little college town but we haven’t been that adventurous yet!

  34. 46

    I ate Ethiopian food once when I used to eat meat, and I’m sorry to say the meat was served almost completely raw. I’m not sure whether it was the restaurant or how Ethiopian meat is customarily served, but I have yet to eat Ethiopian food again. I did like the bread though, and I think I would have been much happier with an all veggie dish. Maybe this will inspire me to try it again in the future because it looks delicious!

  35. 48

    I love Ethiopian food! I’ve had their meat based and vegan dishes. Loved them all.

  36. 49

    Had Ethiopian food with my best friends one day and we said the same thing about the bread. It was good at first but then it was slightly too much for us. Too bitter or something from the fermenting. We thought it would have been better with pita too! :)

  37. 50

    I tried some special tea drink last time I had Ethiopian and that was yummy. I think it had ginger in it, and I’m a fan of ginger. But I def concur about the bread…strange texture and flavor.

  38. 51

    Mmmm, I love Ethiopian food – the spicy lentils are generally my favourite. There are tons of Ethiopian restaurants near my house – a stretch of 9 or 10 of them. So much fun. And I’m a fan of the injera, although I can see the sour taste might not be for everyone.

  39. 52

    @jordan you would have ordered the kitfo which is a raw dish as the tribe the guragay are renounded for that food you should have asked for it to be cooked as you didnt it was served raw as thats how its intended to be. That doesnt mean that all the dishes of meat are raw. As an ethiopian im very happy that you find my country food good. I always assumed it was an aquired taste only for Ethiopians due to the spiceyness and the eating with hands, but its true what they say once you go ethiopian you will never go back!

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