Family-run Fikre Kitchen celebrates and shares their Ethiopian cultural heritage through their rich, traditional cuisine. ‘Fikre’ originates from Ethiopian, meaning ‘my love’, and is also the name of the incredible chef and matriarch behind Fikre Kitchen. Having grown up in Addis Ababa, she moved to London in 1989 and raised her family of three to embrace their Ethiopian roots through food, language, and tradition.
When did Fikre decide she wanted to start selling her food?
Fikre has prepared and shared food with her family and friends for many years, she just never saw it as a business venture. However, with the encouragement and help of her children, Fikre began selling her food and opened Fikre Kitchen in 2017.
How has living in London affected how you engage with Ethiopian cuisine?
London is a city full of so many different people and their cultures. Living in Hackney, East London, we are continually exposed to a wide range of food, fashion, music and languages from all round the world. This has motivated us to proudly represent Ethiopian food and culture in our community.
“We proudly represent Ethiopian food and culture in our community”
For someone not familiar with Ethiopian food, what dishes would you most recommend?
Ethiopian food is exciting, different and very diverse in their offering. Traditional Ethiopian food is perfect for so many diets in that there’s always a “fasting” (plant-based) option. Wednesday’s and Friday’s are traditional ‘fasting days’ in Ethiopia where people eat only plant-based foods.
Our traditional rich vegan recipes have strong spicy flavours and hearty stews. Our main staple dish is injera, a fermented flatbread that is traditionally eaten with any variety of wots (stews). Some of our favourites which we offer are Misir (a spicy red lentil stew) and Kik (a mild, turmeric yellow, split pea stew), but there’s a lot more of great ones, which you can find listed on our website.
Can you tell me a little more about the cultural changes you’ve seen in Hackney since you’ve lived there?
As a family, we have lived in Hackney for over 25 years and have witnessed first-hand the changes that have taken place in our community. Particularly in the past 10 years, so many people from around the world have made Hackney their home, which means that there has been a growing appetite for people exploring different cuisine options. The range of offerings you would find in Hackney has definitely expanded.
Do you serve coffee out of your market stall and if so, can you tell me about its importance?
At the moment, we don’t regularly sell coffee at our market, but we do on special occasions such as Easter or Christmas. Our future ambitions would be to expand our coffee offering to the community. It’s an important cultural ritual that’s been passed from generation to generation; Ethiopians consider the coffee ceremony a crucial tenet of friendship and respect – you can visit our website to learn more.
What does cooking mean to you and your family?
Cooking has been a big part of our family tradition for generations now. The move from Ethiopia to England meant leaving behind some important traditions, but the preparation of food and the act of cooking was something which kept our family connected to our Ethiopian roots, and allowed us to feel closer to home.
“The preparation of food and the act of cooking kept our family connected to our Ethiopian roots”
And lastly, is there anything else you’d like people to know about Fikre Kitchen?
We love to share our culture and traditions as much as we do our food, so even if you are not looking to be fed and just want to learn more about the culture and Ethiopian heritage, don’t be afraid to come and say hello!