Ethiopian Tibs Recipe _ How to Make Ethiopian Tibs | Hank Shaw (2024)

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5 from 17 votes

By Hank Shaw

May 22, 2014 | Updated December 23, 2020


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Ethiopian Tibs Recipe _ How to Make Ethiopian Tibs | Hank Shaw (2)

Dinner service was over. Time to finally make myself some dinner. It was almost always the same.

Blast some onions in a pan, add spiced butter, some bits of lamb, a few chiles. Dip a big spoon into our house spice mixture, toss, toss, toss. A few tomatoes, a splash of red wine. Boil like a volcano for just a minute, then you’re done. Tibs.

This was my nightly routine at my first restaurant job, at an Ethiopian place called The Horn of Africa, in Madison, Wisconsin, back in 1992. The Horn was owned by an Eritrean woman named Meselesh Ayele, and the little bar at the back of the restaurant was a sanctuary for the expatriate African community of Madison — yes, one existed. They were mostly students, researchers or professors at UW. I learned a lot drinking with that crew.

Once the restaurant’s dinner service was over, which normally wasn’t that late, I’d make myself some food and take a spot at the bar. It wasn’t long before this guy from Djibouti called me out on my menu choice. I forget his name, but he had this huge, booming voice like that Trinidadian dude from the 7-Up commercial in the 1980s, only with a slightly French accent. I use to piss him off my calling him “My Favorite Frenchman,” since the French basically owned Djibouti.

“Hey, man,” he say, “Why you always eat the same thing? Every night. Tibs. Tibs, tibs, tibs. They should call you Mister Tibs!” He thought this was the funniest thing he’d ever heard, and the name stuck. From then on, I was Mr. Tibs. (Please tell me you get the reference to the Sidney Poitier movie… )

Tibs is the name for one of the cooler Ethiopian dishes out there. It’s a hybrid stir fry and stew that comes together in an instant, is meaty, rich and can be spicy as hell. Served with bread, rice or, more properly, injera flatbread, it was and is my favorite Ethiopian dish. I always made it with lamb, but we also served it with beef — and now I use venison.

I remembered how to make it from back then, but I never had an actual recipe. So when I went looking, it took some time.

I finally created the recipe below, from an amalgam of recipes, the best of which is in a little book called Exotic Ethiopian Cooking: Society, Culture, Hospitality, and Traditions. It’s hard to find, but it you do, buy it. It’s the best Ethiopian cookbook I know of.

Those were fun days. I was a graduate student, cook, rookie journalist and distance runner. I worked hard and played harder. Tibs was my go-to fuel back then, and I am glad to be able to bring it back.

Ethiopian Tibs Recipe _ How to Make Ethiopian Tibs | Hank Shaw (3)

When you read through this recipe, I know it sounds like a lot for a simple plate of food, but if you do this, you will not be sorry. The flavors are exotic, mesmerizing and addictive. And once you have the basic ingredients, they all last for months. So you can make it again. And again.

5 from 17 votes

Tibs, Ethiopian Stir-Fried Beef or Venison

This dish is super easy to make, but you do need a few unusual ingredients and spices, and you need to have everything set to go before you start cooking because it comes together very fast. First, you must get yourself some Ethiopian berbere. It comes as either a spice mixture or a paste. You can buy it online or in places like Whole Foods or Cost Plus Market, or you can make it yourself. You'll also need clarified butter, although this tastes more authentic if you make your own Ethiopian spiced butter. Of the many spices listed in the ingredients, the most important is the fenugreek. It is this spice that makes the version of tibs we served at Horn of Africa different from most others.

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Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Ethiopian

Servings: 4 people

Prep Time: 20 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes minutes


  • 1 large red onion, about 2 cups, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup niter kebbeh or ghee spiced butter
  • 2 pounds venison, lamb or beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons berbere
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups whole peeled tomatoes, broken into bits
  • 1 to 5 green chiles, such as jalapenos or serranos
  • 1/2 cup red wine


  • Get the saute pan or wok very hot. Stir-fry the onions without the butter for a few minutes, until they char just a little on the outside. Add the spiced butter and the venison. Stir-fry hot and fast until the outside of the meat is brown but the inside of the meat is still very rare. You need to do this on as hot a burner as you have. Do it in two batches unless you have a very large wok or pan.

  • The moment the meat has browned, add it all back into the pan along with the spices, garlic and chiles. Stir-fry another 30 seconds or so, then add the tomatoes and the wine. Toss to combine and let this cook for a minute or two. Serve at once with bread or injera.


Calories: 444kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 222mg | Sodium: 391mg | Potassium: 985mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 641IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 11mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

Categorized as:
African, Featured, Recipe, Venison, Wild Game

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Ethiopian Tibs Recipe _ How to Make Ethiopian Tibs | Hank Shaw (2024)


What does Tibs mean in Ethiopian? ›

Tibs: Sliced beef or lamb, pan fried in butter, garlic and onion, tibs is one of the most popular dishes among Ethiopians.

What is the main seasoning in Ethiopian food? ›

A base seasoning, used in a wide variety of savory and spiced Ethiopian dishes, is a blend of spices known as Berbere. Most Berbere seasoning is made with chile peppers, fenugreek, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and coriander.

What is the main ingredient in Ethiopian food? ›

Components of Ethiopian Cuisine

Common grains used in Ethiopian cooking include teff, millet, and sorghum, with teff being the most predominant. While wheat and barley are also used in Ethiopian cuisine, there are many options that do not rely on these gluten-containing grains.

What is Tibs and how would you use it? ›

Beef tibs is a popular Ethiopian beef stew that is deliciously spiced with berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend and other aromatic ingredients. The word 'tibs' refers to a dish that you prepare with cubed or sliced beef or lamb. What is this? Beef is by far the most traditional meat to use in this stew.

What does wot mean in Ethiopian? ›

The Crown Jewel of Ethiopian Cuisine Doro Wot (Direct translation from Amharic - the language spoken in Ethiopian) Doro wot literally means “chicken stew.” The word doro stands for chicken, and wot means stew.

What is disrespectful in Ethiopian culture? ›

It is rude to use the left hand alone. Gifts are not opened at the time they are received. It is a nice gesture to bring food when visiting an Ethiopian home. If you are returning or visiting from a different place, it is a good idea to bring a gift from your country of origin or the places you have travelled.

What is the most famous Ethiopian dish? ›

Often called the national dish of Ethiopia, the berbere-spiced chicken and egg stew is usually reserved by home cooks for occasions such as family gatherings, religious holidays, and weddings, in part because making doro wat can be very time-consuming.

What are the best Ethiopian spices? ›

A few single spices typify classic Ethiopian cuisine on their own, like korerima (Ethiopian black cardamom), timiz (Ethiopian long pepper) and besobila (holy basil).

What kind of oil is used in Ethiopian food? ›

In their adherence to strict fasting, Ethiopian cooks have developed a rich array of cooking oil sources—besides sesame and safflower—for use as a substitute for animal fats which are forbidden during fasting periods. Ethiopian cuisine also uses nug (also spelled noog, also known as "niger seed").

What do Ethiopians eat for breakfast? ›

Depending on the area there are several type of breakfasts in Ethiopia.
  • Firfir - (made of dried or soft injera)
  • Genfo - (made with barley)
  • Chehebesa - (it's a traditional bread mixed with spices)
  • Ful - (made with broad beans)
Apr 15, 2019

What do Ethiopians eat on Christmas? ›

On all special holidays, including Christmas, the floor is covered with grass. The special Christmas dish is doro wat, which is a delicious thick spicy stew with chicken and whole boiled eggs in it. It is eaten with injera, a thin sourdough flatbread used to scoop up the wat instead of using cutlery.

What Ethiopian food is healthy? ›

Nuts and seeds also contain healthy fats and other nutrients that protect us against heart disease. Sunflower and flax seed juice mixed with injera flakes (yesuf/yetelba fitfit) are traditional foods good for health.

What to eat with Ethiopian Tibs? ›

Ingudai tibs can be served with injera bread for a delicious vegan Ethiopian meal. To up the protein even more, serve them with split pea stew Kik alicha , Ethiopian lentil stew (missir wot). Another great side would be potato cabbage atakilt wat and the various lentils and some injera or flatbread.

What is wot in Ethiopian cuisine? ›

Wat or wet (Amharic: ወጥ, IPA: [wətʼ]) or tsebhi (Tigrinya: ጸብሒ, IPA: [sʼɐbħi]) is an Ethiopian and Eritrean stew that may be prepared with chicken, beef, lamb, a variety of vegetables, spice mixtures such as berbere (hot variety), and niter kibbeh, a seasoned clarified butter.

What is the difference between Tibs and Derek Tibs? ›

And they're pan-cooked with the sauce until they're cooked through, and the sauce has thickened. On the other hand, Derek Tibs takes on a slightly different form than traditional Tibs. They are usually prepared with less sauce but more dry seasonings such as garlic powder or ginger powder.

What do Ethiopians call each other? ›

People are addressed with their honorific title and their first name. 'Ato', 'Woizero', and 'Woizrity' are used to address a man, married woman, and unmarried woman respectively. Elders should be greeted first. It is customary to bow when introduced to someone who is obviously older or has a more senior position.

What are Ethiopian words for love? ›

This heart ornament or wall hanging has been lovingly hand embroidered by myself in the colors of the Ethiopian flag; green, yellow and red with the word for love in the Ethiopian language Amharic; "fikir".

What is Ethiopian royalty called? ›

A Negus (Ge'ez: ንጉሥ nəgus, "king") was a hereditary ruler of one of Ethiopia's larger provinces, over whom collectively the monarch ruled, thus justifying his imperial title.


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