A huge flag of Ethiopia waves with people sitting underneath it

Food

In Ethiopia, a taste of home for displaced Yemenis

During the day, dozens of guests of all backgrounds crowd around long tables at Yemen Kings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to share traditional Yemeni dishes like fahsa, a stew made out of beef or lamb.

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In this May, 28, 2000, file photo, Ethiopians sit under an Ethiopian flag as they watch a parade in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Qatar and the Arab nations have made inroads in the Horn of Africa in recent years by establishing military bases now being used in the Yemen war, as well as managing ports and showering friendly nations with foreign aid. 

Credit:

Pier Paolo Cito/File/AP

When conflict broke out in Yemen in 2014, Karim Gamal and his family were, like countless of others, forced to flee their homes.

Related: Yemen's most stable city threatened by Houthi takeover

Six years later, millions of Yemenis remain internally displaced, and thousands of others have left the country altogether, fleeing to the Gulf, Europe, or, in Gamal’s case, Ethiopia.

Related: A fufu TikTok trend introduces millions to a West African staple

“We all have the love of Ethiopia,” said Gamal, who is half Ethiopian, and half Yemeni.

He was living in Yemen when the conflict broke out. His life story is a testament to the shared history between the two countries. 

Today, he works behind the counter at Yemen Kings, a restaurant in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, which his father and uncle opened in 2019.

During the day, dozens of guests of all backgrounds crowd around long tables to share traditional Yemeni dishes like fahsa, a stew made out of beef or lamb.

“It’s a food that you can find in all Yemen houses,” Gamal said. “They burn it in fire at a high temperature” in pots called hareda.

By 9 p.m., most customers at Yemen Kings have gone home, but grilled meat still sizzles on the grill for late-night sandwiches paired with kerkede, a sweet Yemeni drink.

“It’s made of roses, red roses that have been dried,” Gamal explained. “After it’s dried, they sink it in water.”

Since its opening, Yemen Kings has become a popular destination for Ethiopians as well as Arab visitors. 

But for Yemeni residents in Addis Ababa, especially those who have fled the conflict, the restaurant holds a particularly special meaning.

Related: Labeling the Houthis as 'terrorists' could cost Yemeni lives

“Most of the Yemenis, also they come here, and they feel that they have the taste of Yemen and flavor of Yemen that they are missing."

Karim Gamal, Yemen Kings, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

“Most of the Yemenis, also they come here, and they feel that they have the taste of Yemen and flavor of Yemen that they are missing,” Gamal said.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen shows no end in sight, and now, Ethiopia is embroiled in its own conflict in the northern region of Tigray. 

But here, inside the restaurant, there's a moment of peace for everyone.

“Ethiopia is the most unbelievable country. Actually, I want to cry when I say this,” Gamal said. “Because many people in my country have suffered, and they come to Ethiopia and Ethiopia has serviced them in a very good way.”

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