Ethiopian-Style Fish and Rice (Wali na Samaki)

Vickie Parks


Wali na Samaki is a common dish throughout East Africa. The recipe features pan-fried fish and steamed white rice topped with a tomato-based sauce that's packed with a bounty of fresh vegetables. I liked to use the tomato-based sauce to flavor the white rice that accompanies the fish. Different recipes can vary, and they might include coconut, peanuts, cassava or other ingredients depending on regional cuisine standards. This is one of the Ethiopian basic versions of Wali na Samaki.

Wali = rice
samaki = fish


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15 Min
35 Min
Pan Fry


  • 1 large
    green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large
    onion, chopped
  • 28-oz can(s)
    diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 2 c
  • 1
    lemon, zested and juice
  • 1/2 tsp
    crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3
    bay leaves
  • 1 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp
    black pepper
  • 6
    skinless white fish fillets, about 5-oz each (such as tilapia)
  • 1 c
    all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp
    lemon pepper
  • ·
    vegetable oil, for frying
  • 6 cups
    cooked white rice

How to Make Ethiopian-Style Fish and Rice (Wali na Samaki)


  1. Prepare white rice (for 6 cups/6 servings) according to package directions. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  2. Place green pepper, onion, tomato, water, 1 tsp lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, salt and pepper in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Stir ingredients well, and bring to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and let simmer 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves, and keep sauce warm until ready to serve.
  4. While sauce is simmering, rinse fillets in cold running water and pat dry. Mix the flour and lemon pepper until well blended, and place it on a shallow plate. Dredge fillets in the seasoned flour to coat on both sides. Shake off excess.
  5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add coated fillets and fry in hot oil for about 5 minutes each side, or until lightly browned.
  6. TO SERVE:
    Divide rice among 6 individual serving plates. Arrange a fillet on top of the rice, then spoon some of the sauce over each fillet. Serve immediately.

Printable Recipe Card

About Ethiopian-Style Fish and Rice (Wali na Samaki)

Course/Dish: Fish
Main Ingredient: Fish
Regional Style: African

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