Eritrea Food and Drink
Italian cuisine dominates in the restaurants in Asmara, where you can find pizza, pasta and a wide range of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes. Massawa is renowned for its excellent seafood, where, if you’re lucky, you may be able to find fresh prawns and even lobster.
Local Eritrean food, famous the world over for its delicious spicy dishes of meat and vegetables served on large spongy pancake called injera, the staple made from teff, wheat or sorghum. The grains are ground up, made into a watery dough and then left to ferment for a couple of days before being fried or baked. Injera is eaten with stew made from meat, fish, vegetables, or any combination of these. Meat or fish stews are called zigini. When it is served, several injera are placed on a tray and the stew poured into the middle. You eat with your hands by breaking off bits of injera and scooping up the stew. People eat together, sharing the food. In practice the choice of food is often limited when you are in the countryside.
• Kitcha (a thin bread made from wheat).
• Injera (a spongy pancake).
• Tsebhi (meat sauté of either lamb or beef with fresh tomatoes and hot peppers).
• Alicha birsen (lentil curry).
• Zigini (meat stew).
• Zigna assa (fish stew).
• Tibzi (meat sauté of either lamb or beef with fresh tomatoes and hot peppers).
• Ful (stewed beans with onion and tomato, normally eaten for breakfast or dinner).
• Kitcha fitfit (pieces of kitcha served with yogurt and butter).
• Shiro (chick pea purée).
• Ades (lentils).
• Capretto (goat, usually served like a rack of lamb).
• Frittata (scrambled eggs with onion and peppers).
• Nai tsom (fasting food – vegetarian combination).
Things to know:
The traditional coffee ceremony is an experience to savour, so if someone invites you for coffee then you should accept the offer with open arms (and bring a small gift, such as a selection of cakes from the bakery).
Hotels and restaurants add a service charge, usually around 10%. Tipping is fairly common, in small amounts. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped.
• Bun (coffee) and shahi (plain tea). Tea and espresso are drunk black with a lot of sugar. In some regions, coffee is served with ginger or black pepper and sugar.
• Siwa (beer brewed from a local grain).
• Mess (local brew made from honey).
• Fruit juices (banana, mango and papaya) are available in Asmara and seasonal.
• Daga (a local brew from Barentu).
• Caticala (a very strong spirit from the western lowlands).
• Abake (a non-alcoholic alternative produced by the Eritrean Muslims).