Making Doro Wat
In making Doro Wat, the spicy chicken Ethiopian dish the spice mix Berberé and the spicy clarified butter Niter Kibbeh (or nit’ir qibe) take pride of place. Chicken and hard-boiled eggs are the other star attractions of a typical or traditional Doro Wat. These are the proud foursome of Doro Wat. No holiday or occasion goes by without the hearty enjoyment of this stew in Ethiopian households. This stew, it has to be stated is extremely spicy. Like the North African powered spice mix Ras El Hanout stews and roasts, a potpourri of delicate and assertive spices are tossed together elegantly to fill every conceivable empty space in the Doro Wat pot and around the chicken. A hint of this and that infuses the stew to give Doro Wat its warmth and depth of intense flavours.
Even though I am well accustomed to African cuisine ranging from North to South and East to West, Doro Wat was an unknown entity. A foreign object, something that I couldn’t quite figure out. Why? Well….the sheer quantity of spices and in traditional Doro Wat the exclusion of tomatoes (which forms the base of most West African) stews was a first for me. Tomatoes would usually temper the heat, enthusiasm and anger of the peppery flavour of African sauces but in Doro Wat there is no such temperance. The use of Niter Kibbeh rather than cooking oil was also somewhat unusua.
My first attempt at Doro Wat, therefore, began with some trepidation. The end result, however, was a revelation! The finger kissing as this stew was tested and folks scratched their heads to find accurate words to describe its sublime flavour was simply unforgettable. This was a deeply rich flavourful wat (stew) thick with the taste of clarified butter and chicken which had been thoroughly infused, in all its crevices, with spices. The hard-boiled eggs which were pierced and sometimes sliced in half or etched with long slits to its skin did not escape from the spicy infusion. The sting came sharp and sudden after my first taste. This was after all to be expected. Doro Wat in all its glorious authenticity is spicy. This stew will lovingly pepper you back with kisses hard and fast but if you prefer a little bit more T.L.C then i’d highly recommend that you move on to something else. This should really be had and enjoyed as it was dreamed up by our Ethiopian ancestors – spicy!
Click to Get the recipe for Doro Wat