Doro wat

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This is Ethiopia's most famous and prestigious dish, translating literally as 'chicken stew'.  Chickens are very expensive to buy in Ethiopia and therefore a luxury food for a special occasion.  One chicken can go a long way, especially when combined with 4kg of onions!  The key to the success of this dish is the slow cooking of the onions - around four hours.  

smdorowatetal0001.jpgDoro wat should be served with injera, Ethiopia's staple flat 'bread', which can be bought in London from Ethiopian shops and restaurants, either home-made or imported from Ethiopia where it is made with the indigenous tef flour (gluten free and high in iron).  Berbere powder and nit'ir qibe (spiced butter) can also be found.

smdoroaddis0001.jpgThis recipe is only slightly adapted from the one kindly taught to me by Egigayeu Abebe in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia, 2011).  Egigayeu is my friend Nebiat's mother, a formidable cook and patient teacher.


smEgigayeuAddis0001.jpgRecipe:  Doro wat.pdf

Serves:  6 as a main course on its own, or up to 24 if served with other dishes, Ethiopian style

4kg onions, yellow or red
250ml mild oil, eg sunflower
4 tbsps tomato puree
10 tbsps berbere spice mix
1 tbsp salt
480ml nit'ir qibe (Ethiopian spiced butter)
1 tbsp garlic puree  
1 chicken, or 12 drumsticks
a lemon
c.1 litre water
6 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsps mikalesha ground spice mix (cumin, cloves, green cardamom or 'false cardamom' seeds)

  1. Finely dice onions and cook in big pot without fat until they release their water and the water evaporates.  Stir frequently so that they do not catch.
  2. Add oil and continue cooking until onions are very soft, brown and caramelised.  Stir frequently and add little dribbles of water if they are in danger of burning.  Allow 4 hours.
  3. Meanwhile have someone kill, pluck and cut up the chicken the traditional way, removing all skin, membrane and stringy bits.  Wash well then soak in water with juice of a lemon and salt.  Alternatively, pull the skin off the 12 chicken drumsticks and use a knife to make three little gashes in the fleshy part of each one.  Rub meat with a little salt and the juice of a lemon.
  4. When onions are a rich, dark nut brown, add tomato puree to the pot and cook for 5 mins, stirring.
  5. Now add berbere powder and salt and cook for about 10 minutes while stirring, adding dribbles of water to stop the berbere burning.  This step is important - the berbere needs to cook to lose its raw powder flavour, but burns easily.  You should be able to smell the difference when it is ready.
  6. Bless the butter and add it, then the garlic.
  7. Meanwhile lift out chicken pieces from their water, slash each piece and cook in a dry pot until very dry but not browned.  If using the chicken drumsticks, you can omit this step.
  8. Now add the chicken to the stew pot along with just enough water to barely cover (approx 1 litre).  Stir to combine and simmer gently partially covered until the chicken is very tender, about one hour.  It is ready when the fat has risen to the top, there is no scum or froth on top and the meat is pulling away from the bones, almost falling apart.
  9. While the doro wat is cooking bring a saucepan of water to a boil.  Add the eggs and boil for exactly 7 minutes.  Lift out with a slotted spoon directly into a bowl of very cold water.  Take each egg out and tap it all over on the work surface to create a crazy paving effect.  Replace in cold water and let sit for a few minutes, then carefully peel each egg.  Score a few shallow slits in each egg around its fattest part (ie parallel lines running vertically, top to bottom) so that the sauce will seep in.
  10. Finally add the mikalesha spice mix to the pot and more salt to taste.  Add the eggs and let everything simmer together for 10 minutes.  Stir carefully being careful not to break up the chicken pieces or eggs.  

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Culinary Anthropologist