Tere Siga - Gastro Obscura

Meats & Animal Products

Tere Siga

This Ethiopian dish of raw, sometimes spiced, meat comes with a specialized cutting ritual.

The Ethiopian dish known as tere siga offers exactly what it promises. Translating to “raw meat,” the meal consists of thick strips of just that: raw meat, usually cut off a hanging carcass (most often, a cow), served with a fiery spice blend (mitmita) and a small bowl of a runny, spicy mustard sauce (senafich). And, of course, there is injera, the vessel most commonly used to transport Ethiopian foods from plate to mouth.

Tere siga stands out among other local delicacies, as it is one of the few Ethiopian foods eaten with the help of utensils. A large part of the meal is the ritual of cutting the meat. The act is known as q’wirt, from the Amharic word q’warata, meaning “to cut.”

The raw meat dish is undeniably a culturally important one in Ethiopia, which is striking considering that Ethiopians spend most of their lives actively eschewing meat: Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity has 180 fasting days each year (250, if you’re a priest or nun), which stipulate no food before mid-afternoon and no meat at all.

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