My college chum who grew up in Ethiopia, introduced me to Injera and Doro Wat and I was hooked. It ain’t easy to procure the ingredients, but with a little effort and hard work, you can cook up a reasonably good Ethiopian dish.
Doro Wat is one of the national dishes of Ethiopia, traditionally served with a spongy Ethiopian flatbread injera made with teff flour (a grain indigenous to the area) The injera is used to scoop up the chicken stew.
Making Doro Wat is usually a day’s labour for an Ethiopian. The key to authentic, great-tasting Doro Wat is top quality Berbere spice mix and the long cooking process.
Make the Berbere spice blend and the Mekkelesha spice blend the day before and save in bottles, so you don’t waste time on the day of cooking.
Cut and clean 500 grams chicken with bones. Transfer to a clean bowl, squeeze 3-4 whole limes into the chicken and add 4 cups of water. Add few lime halves in. So you have the chicken pieces soaking in lime water for an hour.
Peel and finely mince or lightly puree 5 large purple onions.
Place a heavy pot on low flame. Add the onion mince and keep stirring until the onion begins to sweat all the flavour out. This caramelisation of the onions should not be hurried or skipped; this gives the earthy flavour to the dish. The magic is in the slowly-caramelising onions. And magic takes time to happen. If you cut back on the cooking time, your Doro Wat will still taste good, but not awesome. After around 20 minutes, add half cup oil (sunflower oil, vegetable oil or avocado oil, NOT olive or coconut) Stir well.
Add 3 tbs Berbere powder (To make the Berbere mix – toast lightly and powder together – 10 red chillies, 8 cloves, 1 whole nutmeg, 8 cardamoms, 2 tsp black peppercorns, 5 allspice berries, 3 tsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 6 tbs paprika, 1 tsp ginger powder, 2 inch piece of cinnamon and 1 tsp fenugreek seeds) Stir well.
Add 2 tbs fresh ginger garlic paste to the pot. Add 3 tbs Kibbeh (Ethiopian clarified butter; or you may use Indian ghee) Stir well. If the mixture is dry, add 2-3 cups hot water. Let this cook for few minutes.
Add the chicken pieces, drained from the lime water. Cook for 40 minutes.
Sprinkle 2 tsp of Mekkelesha powder (To make the Mekkelesha mix – Toast lightly and powder without burning – 10 Korerima (Ethiopian Black Cardamom or 10 Indian cardamoms) 2 tbs black Peppercorns, 2 inch cinnamon stick, 2 tbs cumin, 12 cloves and 1 whole nutmeg) Cook for another couple of minutes. Then remove off the fire.
Top the Doro Wat with 6 hard-boiled eggs. Mix well.
Serve with Injera, Jollof rice or chappatis. It is African heaven on a platter.
By Linda Joseph Kavalackal,
Christ and Co.