It all started as a game. The menu stated in the description of the dish that it was not meant for the faint hearted. We dared each other to try the dish and clearly my spice loving family fell head over heels in love with the fiery sauce at the very first bite! We passed the challenge with flying colours but intrigued by the depth of flavours and layers upon layers of different sources of heat, I decided to go hunt for the perfect recipe to recreate it in my own kitchen.
To my disappointment, I found a number of exotic, never heard of ingredients in all the authentic recipes. Two essential elements, berbere and niter kibbeh, sounded completely alien to me. But you know me! Creating a recipe out of my comfort zone, using the available ingredients, is what I enjoy most and this what my blog all about!
So after further research I found that Berbere is an Ethopian spice mix which I can easily make in my kitchen with the spices that are already in my spice cupboard.
Berbere goes almost in every Ethiopian dish; in sauces, seasonings and marinades. It’s a spice blend heavy on the use of chillies and paprika with aromatics like cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and fennel added to the powdered mix.
Niter Kibbeh is an ever present, spice infused clarified butter in Ethiopian cuisine.
That too is quite simple to make at home from the scratch. But since we use a lot of clarified butter/desi ghee in our part of the world, I already had a jarful in my pantry. So I took a shortcut and just simmered that with garlic, cardamom, cumin and turmeric to infuse the spicy flavours.
This Ethiopian Chicken dish uses heaps and heaps of finely chopped onions that are cooked without any water or oil. Now so many onions should make the sauce unpleasantly sweet but in this case they don’t. The sweet from the onions is beautifully balanced by the heat from the chillies and spices. Some recipes do add tomato paste to the sauce and others don’t. I like to make mine with tomatoe purée because they add substance and flavour to the sauce.
As always, I’ve used to few hacks to save time in the kitchen. Instead of finely chopping the onions, garlic and ginger, I whiz them in the food processor. I cut my boneless chicken into very thin strips so that it gets cooked almost as quickly as in a stir fry.
The hot n spicy dish is traditionally served over injera (a crepe-like bread made with teff flour) with a dollop of yogurt. Sauce is spicy, injera is sour and the yogurt balances the heat. But you can eat Doro Wat with any flatbread, steamed rice or even couscous. In fact for people who want to tone down the heat, steamed rice is the best option.
Here I have tried my best to simplify and shorten the cooking procedure in easy steps for you, with added recipes for homemade berbere and Niter kibbeh. The dish is simply too good to miss just because you can’t find a few ingredients readily available in your area.
For Doro Wat:
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 large onions
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
3 tablespoons tomato puree
3/4 cup berbere spice mix
4 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 hard boiled eggs
For Berbere Spice Mix:
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon Carom seeds ( ajwain)
1 stick, Cinnamon (darcheeni)
5 Cloves (laung)
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
Seeds from 5-6 Cardamoms (illaychi)
2 teaspoons, Black pepper corn (Kali mirch)
1/2 teaspoon, Nutmeg (jaifal)
2 teaspoons, Coriander seeds (dhania)
Salt to taste
For Niter Kibbeh:
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bay leaf/curry leaf
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
This Is What You Do:
Meanwhile toast all the dry spices briefly on a skillet till aromatic. Grind them to fine powder in an electric grinder. Set aside.
To make Niter Kibbeh from scratch, let butter simmer on low heat in a saucepan till the surface is coated with foam. Skim away the foam till the clarified butter is clear and transparent. If you already have clarified butter/desi ghee, skip this step.
Add garlic cloves, curry leaf, cumin seeds, cardamoms and turmeric to the clarified butter. Simmer for 10-15 minutes on low heat. Pass through a sieve or cheesecloth. Set aside.
Peel onions. Add to a food processor, whiz briefly. Add them to a heavy bottomed pan (no water or oil is added at this stage). Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, till all the onion juices dry off and the onions are nice and soft.
Add garlic and ginger paste. Cook until dry and the whole mixture is nicely browned. You can add a splash of water now and then so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.
To this add, olive oil and spiced clarified butter/Niter kibbeh. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
Add a cup of water. Add berbere spice mix. Cook another 15 minutes.
Add chicken strips along with the vinegar and lemon juice they were marinated in. Cook for 7-8 minutes.
Make little slits in hard boiled eggs so that they can soak up the sauce. Add them to Doro Wat.
Add more water to get the desired consistency of sauce. Check for seasoning.
Serve hot over injera, any flatbread, steamed rice or couscous.