Cooking Doro Wat

Inspired by Derek, I ordered some berbere spice and koseret from, and tonight I’m making Doro Wat, a spicy Ethiopian chicken stew. Like Derek, I love the stuff; along with Coq au Vin and Hoppin’ John, it’s one of my favorite dishes ever. Unfortunately, I’m not yet brave enough to try making the injera (soft flat pan-bread) with which it’s traditionally supposed to be served, so I’m committing the sacrilege of serving it with soft tortillas: terrible, I know. My recipe’s a little different from Derek’s (and I’m definitely going to have to try it his way), so I thought I might share it here. This uses 6 pounds of chicken, so serves plenty, but it’s easily halved, especially if you just put the unused portion of niter kebbeh in the freezer for next time. The berbere and koseret can be ordered from, and koseret is substitutable; Googling will find you plenty of good recipes for homemade berbere.

1. Start by making niter kebbeh, the spiced clarified butter that’s a staple of so much excellent Ethiopian cooking.

1 cup (16 tablespoons, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter. (Land O’ Lakes is by far the best, because it has the least milk solids; it really does make a difference.)
2 tablespoons koseret (Dried Lippia Javanica, an African relative of lemon verbena — probably the easiest substitute is basil.)
.5 teaspoon cardamom
.5 teaspoon fenugreek
.5 teaspoon dried onion
.25 teaspoon turmeric
.25 teaspoon garlic powder
.25 teaspoon ginger
.25 teaspoon cinnamon
.25 teaspoon cloves

Cut the butter into small pieces so it’ll melt faster. Melt over very low heat and add spices. Let simmer (it should be bubbling, but barely) for 40 minutes or so, stirring often; the goal is to toast the spices without scorching the butter. Pour through a fine strainer and set the clear, liquid clarified butter aside; discard the solids from the strainer.

2. Marinate the chicken.

6 pounds chicken parts (I was more lazy than frugal tonight and bought boneless skinless chicken thighs.)
.5 cup lemon juice
3 teaspoons salt

Set it in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

3. Make the berbere sauce.

.5 to .75 cup berbere powder, depending on how spicy you like it.
.5 to .75 cup dry red wine (I say use the cheapest stuff you can find, but stay away from that nasty supermarket salted cooking wine.)
.5 cup vegetable oil (I like canola oil best because it’s hard to burn and relatively tasteless.)

Combine in a small saucepan and heat to bubbling. Stir and remove from heat.

4. Put it all together.

6 sweet yellow spanish or vidalia onions, finely chopped (1 onion per pound of chicken.)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (1 clove per pound of chicken.)
.25 cup paprika (Yeah. That’s a lot of paprika. Probably best to use the mild variety the first time out, though I’ve been playing with substituting some of the spicy stuff, or some chipotle chili pepper, for part of the amount.)
1 cup water or chicken stock
.5 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne pepper

Heat the niter kebbeh and add the berbere sauce and paprika. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add onion and garlic and sautee for 5 minutes, until the onion loses its raw smell. Add wine, chicken (with the marinade), spices, and water or stock. Cover and simmer 30-60 minutes or until chicken is tender and coming apart (you might help separate it with a fork, to make grabbing it with the injera or tortillas easier), stirring occasionally and adding water (or, as mine turned out tonight, removing the lid and letting it cook down for 15 minutes at a time if it’s too thin) as necessary to get the sauce to the consistency of cream.

For added authenticity, you could add whole hard-boiled eggs (1 per pound of chicken, pierced to the yolk with the tines of a fork) 10 minutes before it’s done, but I usually don’t bother: it’s good enough without them. It is, however, very spicy, with a sort of sustained heat that may startle folks whose familiarity with spicy foods has been primarily in the context of Latin American or Asian cuisines.

Cooking Doro Wat

25 thoughts on “Cooking Doro Wat

  • August 29, 2005 at 6:44 pm

    I guess I’m a lamer redneckier cook than I thought b/c I’ve never even heard of berbere, and I wouldn’t begin to know where to find something like koseret. But I coudl substitute the basil!

  • August 29, 2005 at 9:22 pm

    This recipe for berbere is really easy: put a bunch of spices together and roast in the oven at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring often. I shared some of the Doro Wat over rice (the tortillas weren’t such a good idea) with my attorney tonight; she enjoyed it so much she offered to pay me to set some aside for her the next time I make it. I think that’s a sign it came out well. 🙂

  • September 16, 2005 at 11:26 pm

    Thanks, Angela! It’s probably a terrible culinary sin on my part, but I discovered this week that turkey meatloaf spiced with berbere, crushed koseret, and chipotle chili powder is absolutely delicious. I’m thinking it might be even better substituting ground lamb for half of the turkey, so that’s on deck for early next week.

  • September 26, 2005 at 9:47 pm

    I made this recipe last night for my visiting boss and my squeeze. I halved the recipe, but used almost the same amount of sauce. It was GREAT!! We ate almost all of it. I’d tell you which injera was better if I hadn’t drank so many beers with dinner. Thanks for the recipe!

  • October 3, 2005 at 7:34 pm

    Being at the U of M, I go to a food co-op here (North Country Co-op) in Minneapolis that is just excellent! It is right next to an ethiopian community center, and they offer every kind of ethiopian spice known to man. Further, they have homemade injera you can buy. I’ve only ever eaten it alone (my single experience with West African food, a restaurant called Kilimanjaro, left me with heartburn and without appetite for a few days), but I’ve made it once, and it was actually easy. I be you could make it, as long as you did it in advance. Using a lefse grill helps or a huge skillet, though the former is better, since you don’t want to brown it. I’ll have to try out this recipe!

  • November 1, 2005 at 8:54 pm

    Angela, if you live in Seattle (ONE of the Pacific Northwest), we have a large Ethiopian Community. You can get Injera in the Central District Ethiopian markets. I saw the website you had suggested and I can’t believe you’re ordering out in the midwest/east coast! *UGH*…shipping cost…where you can probably order or buy closer to home. We even have few Ethiopian restaurants you have to try! Even if you don’t live in Seattle, I’m sure they’re are places near you that has Ethiopian cuisine items. Good Luck, Angela! I just love Doro Wat! A nice Ethiopian couple that I had work with had invited me to their home and had made this special dish with Injera. I really feel honored they made it for me (there is a meaning behind Doro Wat dish). I haven’t made the dish yet, I FINALLY found the recipe! Great reviews from everyone here. I’ll have to try this recipe, looks simple to make. Also, I use berbere in chili, my friends and co-workers want to know what kind of spice I use…it’s a secret spice I’d tell them! =)

  • May 9, 2006 at 5:02 pm

    I love it ethiopian food is very coll to me and it is very teasty

  • July 15, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Hi all! Does anybody know the recipe of the REAL berbere dry spice mix? I am russian. I have been to Ethiopia long-long ago and since that time could not forget this magic taste and flavor. Unfortunately I can’t get berbere here (in Moscow), so I tried to make it myself from more then 22 ingredients. But to my great regrets I couldn’t find the true proportions: all recipies from the Internet had the great difference between each other. I see that several people from this page got the “Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D.J. Mesfin”. So can anybody scan for me the page with this recipe and send me? And I’ll “bring” the result here. My e-mail is:
    Thank You very much!

  • July 15, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Nay, I think “real” berbere might be similar to “real” barbecue in the U.S. or “real” борщ in Russia: its authenticity actually resides in its variability. The primary components — lots and lots of cayenne, plus fenugreek, cardamom, allspice, and cloves — are pretty much the same from recipe to recipe, but beyond that, you might be better off just figuring out what combination works best for you. This page has a great general discussion and a nicely customizable recipe — but if you’re lazy like me, buying it by the pound from, as Angela pointed out, works just fine.

  • July 16, 2006 at 4:49 am

    Good day Mike, thank you for reply. I understand that it’s very hard to find the authentic recipe of this dish. Most recipies from the Internet are wrong (and unfortunately is wrong too): there no cumin, nor allspice in REAL berbere (what ethiopians call black cumin is Nigella sativa; and instead of allspice you have to add some quantity of Piper longum and Piper cubebe), on the other side Basil (Ocimium Sanctum) must be present in this mix, so where is it? And where are rue seeds? No, I can’t trust that page. But I know that the recipe from “Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D.J. Mesfin” is quite similar to ethiopian technology.
    With best regards, Nay.

  • July 16, 2006 at 4:58 am

    Here we go (from Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D. J. Mesfin )

    Berbere ingredients:

    dry red chillie
    red onion
    rue seed
    sacred basil
    bishop weed

    But I don’t know quantities!

  • July 16, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    Well, if you can find rue seed, holy basil, and bishop weed in Moscow, I’ll definitely be impressed — here in New England, availability concerns make the spice substitutions a practical necessity. As far as proportions go, I imagine you’ll likely have to experiment and find out what works best for you — comparing the recipes I see, the proportions mostly seem to be somewhere around 2 parts fenugreek, 6 parts salt, 20 parts ground dry red chillies, and 1 part each for the rest of the spices. The red onions go into the actual stew, not into the berbere. Let us know how it comes out!

  • July 16, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    Mike, I’ve bought bishop weed (ajowan) in indianspices shop in Moscow, Sacred basil is growing on my window-sill, rue seed I’ve got on the garden-market. You can see one of the recipe of the REAL BERBERE here:

    And red onions = red shallots 🙂

  • August 20, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    I have tried some of the recipes online for Injera with no success. Is there a recipe in the Exotic Ethiopian Cooking Cookbook, If so could someone please post it. Thanks.

  • August 25, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    Yes, there are recipes in the Exotic Ethiopian Cooking Cookbook, and I have it right in front of me. But there are like 10! Where do you live? Maybe you can buy it fresh. But let me know which one and I will post it. Of course t’ef with a wheat/barley combo is the usual, in my experience, but there are a lot…

  • August 26, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Abra, maybe you can help me with the the recipe of the berbere dry spice mix from this book? I live in Moscow (Russia) and I can’t get “Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D.J. Mesfin” here. See my post from July 15th, 2006 at 5:19 pm.
    Thank you!

  • August 26, 2006 at 11:01 am

    Nay, have you experimented with your spices yet? How did it come out?

  • August 27, 2006 at 5:25 am

    Mike, no. I am awaiting for exact quantities.

  • August 28, 2006 at 2:51 pm


    I can post the bebere recipe when I get home. However, be warned that it is for a HUGE amount, apparently, because the first ingredient is: 15 lbs of red pepper! But if you have the energy, you can divide down and hopefully get a good result. I will post it in about 3 hours.

  • August 28, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    I am typing this exactly as it appears in “Exotic Ethiopian Cooking”.

    Red Pepper (Chili)
    (Capsicum Frutescens C. Abyssinicum)

    large mixing bowl
    medium frying pan
    mortar and pestle
    covered container or jar.

    15 lbs red pepper (dried new Mexican chilie)
    5 lbs fresh garlic
    5 lbs fresh ginger root
    2 cups red onions (chopped)
    1 lb rue seed
    1 cup sacred basil
    1/4 cup cloves
    1/4 cup cinnamon
    1/4 cup cardamom
    1 cup bishop weed
    1 1/2 cup salt
    3 cups water

    Remove all the seed from the red peppers and wash the peppers several times. Dry in the sun or in a mderate oven until crisp and then pound lightly. Pound the garlic, ginger, red onion, rue seed, sacred basil, and bishop weed together. Mix spice mixture with 3 cups of water, add the red pepper and blend well. Cover tightly and let stand for 12 hours. Dry the mixture again in the sun or in a moderate oven. In the meantime, heat the cinnamon, salt, cardamom, and dried cloves. Add to the above mixture and grind together to a fine powder. Store in a tight container. Use as needed.

    Berbere is a basic ingredient in the preparation of Ethiopian dishes. It is used to prepare all dishes requiring berbere.

  • August 28, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Abra, thank you very very much! I’m realy glad to get this recipe. And soon I’ll try to make this mix. Thank you again!

  • November 3, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Wow, I can’t believe so many people love doro wat, lol. I’m Ethiopian and don’t even know how to make it. Maybe I can try this recipe too.

  • May 23, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Hello… I manage a cafe in Florida… We have an “Ethiopian-night” once a week for 7 years, because there is no commercial Ethiopia food available here. And I miss it from when I lived in SF BAY AREA. I have published a very simple Ethiopian cookbook… all of the recipes are vegetarian, though, so be warned… The spice oil and Injera recipes are very simple… as are the cold salads, hot lentil dishes, greens, etc. I wanted to bring this amazing cuisine down to earth and easy for people to do at home… since we have spent so many years doing it the recipes work really well. My only advice to people is: use commercial berbere! (if you can find an authentic one) and don’t skip the spice oil step; it’s important. Also, injera does not have to be hard… you need a good recipe and know that the first few pieces always come out a little weird while the pan is being seasoned. Good luck!

  • August 8, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Hi, i was wondering if anyone can advise me where I can find Rue Seeds? Thanks!


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