Shiro Wat, Ethiopian chickpea paste, served with injera, a sour flatbread

Shiro wat: a traditional Ethiopian dish

Diana Grote

Contributing writer

When I moved to Ethiopia, I asked people in my village what their favourite food was, but the only answer I ever got was shiro wat. It was our staple food, eaten every day, for multiple meals per day. Chock full of protein, it’s filling, delicious, and healthy (yes, shiro is both gluten-free and vegan). If I had to eat only one meal for the rest of my life — honestly, this would be it.

Shiro wat is an Ethiopian stew, made from chicken and/or bean flour. Shiro refers to the beans, and wat means stew. It’s eaten with injera, Ethiopia’s famous fermented flatbread, and can be found in almost every restaurant across the entire country. Whether you’re visiting an Ethiopian restaurant abroad, or wanting to try the local cuisine in Ethiopia, shiro wat is an absolute must-eat.

Eating shiro wat with injera flatbread

If you’re trying to cook this recipe for yourself abroad, you’ll likely need to special order the shiro powder and the berbere spice. I’ve seen stores abroad selling “berbere” spice, but unless it’s a specifically Ethiopian grocery store, it’s just not the same. The effort to get actual shiro and berbere is so worth it. If you aren't sure where to get it, try asking your local Ethiopian restaurant for advice.

Once you’ve got your ingredients, here’s how to put the dish together!


  • 1/2 cup palm oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 1 red onion
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup shiro powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-2 tbsp berbere (to taste)


  1. 1
    Finely dice the onion and garlic. Ideally, the onion will be diced so finely it’s approaching a paste. If you’re not up to the challenge of doing this with a knife, you can use a food processor.
  2. 2
    Add the onion and garlic to a pot with the palm oil, and let simmer as you chop the tomato.
  3. 3
    Finely dice the tomato, to a nearly pureed texture. Again, if you’d like, the food processor is an option.
  4. 4
    Add the tomato to the pot with the onion and garlic, and let simmer.
  5. 5
    Add the berbere powder to the vegetables, mix, and continue to let simmer.
  6. 6
    Once the vegetables are fully cooked, add the water. Let it simmer for several minutes.
  7. 7
    Next, add the shiro powder slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps and clumps.
  8. 8
    Stir as the stew cooks and thickens. Continue cooking on low heat until it has reached the desired consistency (of a thick gravy). If adjustments are needed, more water or shiro can be added.
  9. 9
    Serve hot with injera.

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Diana Grote

Author - Diana Grote

Diana writes for Avagu Press, which focuses on language learning and travel. She lived in Ethiopia for several years, speaks Amharic, and will go to great lengths to obtain injera.

Last Updated 13 January 2023