I’ve always been a huge fan of Ethiopian food, which is not tremendously hot, but none-the-less amazingly flavorful due to its reliance on a lot of spices—many of same ones that Indians and Sri Lankans use as well. I also like the idea of eating from a large tray arranged with multiple meat and vegetable dishes, taking a bit of the spongy injera bread to scoop up a bite of food.
I’ve never attempted to make Ethiopian food at home, but after a recent visit to a local restaurant called Dukem, I was up for the challenge. After all, I was curious to discover what kind of spices Ethiopians use in their cooking as well as the whole process of making such distinctive food. Of course, I wasn’t about to bite off more than I could chew, so I decided to focus on just one dish that I’ve had many times—Doro Wat (Ethiopian braised chicken).
I bought the injera, which resembles a pancake and taste like sourdough, at Dukem, where a pack of 10 huge pancakes cost only $6. I could have bought berbere, the unique spice blend that Ethiopians use, here as well, but since I had all the ingredients—except Ajowan seeds, which I picked up at the Indian store—I decided to whip up a batch myself. No risk, no reward. Right?
I must say that it was an extremely satisfying experience to recreate a dish that I’ve eaten at restaurants on countless occasions, at home. To make things a little easier I used my handy crock-pot since this is a slow-cooking recipe. Unlike most of the dishes featured on Pan Asian, Doro Wat is not quick and it requires a bit of effort, but the amazing results are payback indeed. Note: Though this dish is usually served with hard-boiled eggs I left them out simply because I did not have any.
1/2 white onion, roughly diced
4 cloves garlic
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup Berber spice mix (see below)
salt to taste
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. Chicken legs and thighs
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 Tbsp. butter or ghee
2 hard cooked eggs, peeled
1.) Place onion, garlic, ginger, spice mix, 1 Tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. oil, and 2 Tbsp. water in a food processor or blender and puree, adding more water if necessary to create a paste.
2.) Remove any skin and excess fat from the chicken, and season lightly with salt. Heat remaining oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until light golden brown—about 4 minutes a side. Transfer pieces to a 4-quart slow-cooker. Return pan to high heat and pour in the wine. Boil for one minute and stir in spice paste before removing from heat. Pour the wine mixture into the slow-cooker and turn the chicken pieces to coat. Add butter and cook, covered, on the low setting for 4 hours, or until chicken is tender but not falling off the bone. Stir gently to incorporate the thicker sauce at the bottom of the cooker and season with salt if necessary.
3.) With a pairing knife, score the eggs lightly all over and nestle them in the sauce. Cook covered about 20 minutes more.
Serve hot in shallow bowls with Injera bread underneath or on the side.
Berber spice recipe:
12 stemmed and seeded hot dried red chilies
2 Tsp. fenugreek seeds
2 Tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 Tsp. cumin seeds
1 Tsp. ajowan seeds (optional)
1/2 Tsp. allspice berries
1/2 Tsp. whole cloves
8 crushed white cardamom pods
2 Tsp. paprika
1 Tsp. ground ginger
1.) Toast first 8 ingredients over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes.
2.) Cool and transfer to a spice mill or dedicated coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
3.) Stir in paprika and ginger.
Makes about 1/2 cup