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Doro Wat

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    Posted: 07 November 2010 at 05:45

Quote Doro Wat

(Ethiopian chicken in red pepper paste)

Doro wat is perhaps the best known food from Ethiopia and is often referred to as that country's national dish. This recipe makes a very tasty version with a deep, rich flavor and tender chicken pieces. Making your own homemade berberé is not difficult and is essential to give the dish the proper flavor. Doro wat is traditionally very spicy, but you can adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to your liking. Also spelled doro wot or doro wet.

4 to 6 servings

Chicken legs and thighs, skinless -- 2 pounds
Lemon, juice only -- 1
Salt -- 2 teaspoons
Onions, chopped -- 2
Garlic, crushed -- 3 cloves
Gingerroot, peeled and chopped -- 1 tablespoon
Oil, butter or niter kibbeh -- 1/4 cup
Paprika -- 2 tablespoons
Berberé paste -- 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Water or stock -- 3/4 cup
Red wine -- 1/4 cup
Cayenne pepper -- from 1 teaspoon
Salt and pepper -- to taste
Hard-boiled eggs (optional) -- 4 (we skipped that part)


1.Mix together the chicken pieces, lemon juice and salt and in a large, non-reactive bowl and set aside to marinate for about 30 minutes.

2.While the chicken is marinating, puree the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender. Add a little water if necessary.

3.Heat the oil, butter or niter kibbeh in a large pot over medium flame. Add the paprika and stir in to color the oil and cook the spice through, about 1 minute. Do not burn. Stir in the berberé paste and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

4.Add the onion-garlic-ginger puree and sauté until most of the moisture evaporates and the onion cooks down and loses its raw aroma, about 5 to 10 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to burn.

5.Pour in the water or stock and wine and stir in the chicken pieces, cayenne to taste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add water as necessary to maintain a sauce-like consistency.

6.Add the whole hard boiled eggs and continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and very tender.

7.Adjust seasoning and serve hot with injera bread or rice.

Mrs Rivet and I made the Doro Wat yesterday and it turned out far more delicious than either one of us had anticipated. It was superb, and that is close to an understatement. The deep, smoky flavors balanced out with the hint of the wine's fruit and body, engulfed with the richness of the slow simmered chicken gave this dish an eye-opening factor that you must taste to truly appreciate and understand.
First off a bit of background....

Quote "Wat (meaning “food”) is an Ethiopian and Eritrean stew or curry which may be prepared with chicken, beef, lamb, a variety of vegetables, and spice mixtures such as berbere and niter kibbeh, a seasoned clarified butter.

Several properties distinguish wats from stews of other cultures. Perhaps the most obvious is an unusual cooking technique: the preparation of a wat begins with chopped onions cooked in a dry skillet or pot until much of their moisture has been driven away. Fat (usually niter kibbeh) is then added, often in quantities that might seem excessive by modern Western standards, and the onions and other aromatics are sautéed before the addition of other ingredients. This method causes the onions to break down and thicken the stew.

Wats are traditionally eaten with injera, a spongy flat bread made from the millet-like grain known as teff. Doro wat is one such stew, made from chicken (and sometimes hard-boiled eggs) the ethnologist Donald Levine records that doro wat was the most popular traditional food in Ethiopia, often eaten as part of a group who share a communal bowl and basket of injera."

And this from written by Erick Ackerson:

Quote Ethiopia is a landlocked nation located in the Horn of Africa, with a population of 82.5 million people, making it the second most populous nation in Africa.

Ethiopia is the place where the first Homo Sapien allegedly appeared.  It is a country steeped in history and bloodshed.  It was the place of conquests and battles and the rise and fall of Empires.  In fact the history of Ethiopia is so dense that summarizing it in a few paragraphs is impossible.  Suffice it to say that better historians than I have tackled this task to better results.

Ethiopia was the first country to declare Christianity the national religion, in the 4th century.  Today it maintains a Christian majority with another 35% percent Muslim.  This is reasonable considering its history and its location in relation to the roots of all three Abrahamic faiths as well as its relative geography along the Red Sea.

As a result of this geography, it is no surprise that the food culture in Ethiopia reflects both its Arabic and African roots.  Doro Wat or spicy chicken stew is the national dish of Ethiopia.  The use of North African spice blend Berbere has been seen in Eritreas Zigini and is popular throughout northern Africa.  In fact, Doro Wat is very similar in makeup to Zigini except that it uses Chicken instead of beef.  Also the addition of the spiced Ghee adds an element that is not found in the Zigini recipe, but is used throughout the countries on the spice routes and originated in India.

Traditionally in Ethiopia, Wat is served with either Injera Bread or over rice.

We doubled the recipe, so we used twice as much as everything in the list, the reason being we had a 10lb bag of huge leq-quarters, and the plan was to separate the thighs from the drums and the backs from the thighs. The thighs (about 4 lbs or so) went to the Doro Wat. The drums (about 4 lbs as well) are to be made into my Famous Super Wings for the football games today, and the skin and backs for a broth-making boil today as well.
Here's a run-down on how we did it:
Easy ingredients: chicken, ginger root, garlic, cayenne, paprika, Berbere Paste, fenugreek powder and the Niter Kibbeh (spiced clarified butter, super easy to make), 2 cups of chicken broth (still cold and gelled), a decent merlot, onions and lemons..
Mrs Rivet disjointed the chicken and turned up some clean skinless thighs while I prepped the rest of the goods. Coarlsy chopped onions, all the spices in a bowl, garlic and sliced ginger in another, etcetera...
The thighs were marinated in fresh lemon juice and 2 TSP salt while the rest of the prep was going on. Total time about 45 minutes they marinated-
Now here's a crucial part of the flavor-making magic of this dish: Take all the onions and sautee them over medium high heat, with water, no butter, just dry until they caramelize. This is the basic depth-creating golden delicious flavor of the finished sauce-
Once caramleized, they were pureed with the garlic and ginger. Had to do this in 2 batches 'cause there were a lot of onions.
Then in a deep pot, put about a half cup of the Niter Kibbeh. Once it started to get hot, I added the dry spices, and these were quickly stir-fried over high heat for about a minute or so until fully mixed with the niter kibbeh.
Immediately after that, I added one cup of the berbere paste and continued to stir fry that over medium heat for about 3 or 4 minutes. This is a signature technique of Ethiopian cooking- sauteeing the spices as a separate step in the process- as it greatly deepens their richness and flavor.
Then added the pureed onion garlic ginger mixture and mixed that in well over medium to low heat. Added
the 2 cups home-made chicken broth and about 1/2 to 3/4 cup red wine-
In went the chicken. Brought the pot to a boil then reduced heat to simmer.
The pot simmered for 2 hours and lots of the moisture evaporated, thickening the sauce beautifully. I had overlooked how much liquid the chicken gives off, so I should have reduced the broth by about 1/2 to 3/4 cups. Oh well, the finished sauce was perfectly good, though I thought it should be a tad thicker. During the simmering, I gently stirred the pot of liquid, from the bottom up,  because the spices and onions tend to settle and the liquid rise. We don't want the onions to scorch on the bottom of the pot. 
The finished meal was not "hot" at all but it was deeply "spicy" with a delicious rainbow mix of flavors that literally tumbled around your mouth. As is tradition, the Doro Wat was served with Injera flatbreads. They were great to sop up the sauce and to scoop up the meat, much like tortillas are used.
Of course, we also used silverwear to help pull the meat off the bones. This was perfect, as I did not want the chicken to be so overcooked that it fell off the bones, thereby turning the dish into a soup. The chicken should be in intact pieces-
The simmering process could very well be done in a crockpot and would greatly simplify or extend the cooking time as needed. Just keep in mind the moisture levels and reduce accordingly. The injera's flavor was an unbelievably good match for the dish, it's sourdough like flavor really coming together well with the spices making a perfect balance of flavor in the mouth. I am always enjoyably surprised when I taste regional foods that go hand-in-hand, as if they were made for each other...don't know why, I just am. A squirt of lime (or lemon) adds just a right amount of brightness to some of the bites.
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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 November 2010 at 11:59

i've read about doro wat before and it is one that i have been wanting to try for a while. outstaning job of putting everything together, john - with the injera, the niter kibbeh and the berebere. efforts like that demonstrate an excellent commitment to making everything in authentic manner true to the origins. detailed procedures round out a perfect signature post for this forum!Thumbs Up

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 November 2010 at 02:55
Wonderfully done John...a great tutorial.

We got our first inch of snow last night, and I'm wishing I had some of that for breakfast!
Go with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SavageShooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2012 at 12:29
I purchase Berbere powder from a local Ethiopian cafe here in Kansas City.  I grew up eating Doro Wat and it was something that once you eat, you'll never forget the taste.  I asked my Mother about how it was made and was surprised at how simple it was.  So much so that I made it that very night and it was a huge success in my home.  (I'm the only one who doesn't mind the hard boiled eggs in the dish in my home)  

What I've found out, is that not only can you use Berbere for Doro Wat, but I've used it to make multiple other dishes as well. 

For example, I've used Berbere in Chili (replace cayenne pepper with it) and Spaghetti (kick it up a notch).

I make a beef version, venison version and of course the traditional chicken version.  Berbere is as normal in my kitchen cabinets as Salt & Pepper.
Common sense is not all that common.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tjkoko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 June 2013 at 10:30
And I'll take some injera with that and I used to eat this savory dish all of the time at The Blue Nile restaurant in Berkeley, California.  And if I recall correctly Seyoum Kebede's recipe, the sliced hard boiled eggs were served on the side but that's what cooking is all about, variations.
A foodie here. I know very little but the little that I know I know quite well.

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