If you’re ever in the mood to whip up some exotic food, look no further than the cuisine of Ethiopia. With the exception of the devastating famine that occurred there in the 1980s and one of Angelina Jolie’s adopted children being from there, I feel that’s it for most people’s knowledge on Ethiopia. I myself fell into that category until my senior year in college when my parents and I dined at one of Pittsburgh’s newest dining spots, an Ethoipian restaurant named Abay. Since then, Abay has become a beloved place and I’ve even gotten D to fall in love with it too which says a lot since before we met, he was more of a Chili’s and Applebees kind of a diner. I actually wrote a review of the last time I ate there which can be accessed here.
After all of these years of eating Ethiopian food, I never once ventured in making it myself until this past weekend. Although I really wanted to try my hand at making injera, a yeast-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture, I unfortunately could not find teff flour which is the key ingredient. My local supermarket sold every type of unique and strange sounding flour, but not teff. It does seem to be widely available for purchase online so the next time I’m in the mood for Ethiopian food, I’ll plan in advance.
I decided to make doro wat which is usually one of the dishes we order when we eat at Abay. It’s a spicy chicken stew in red pepper paste. One of the essentials to Ethiopian cooking is berbere paste which is a fiery spice mix (basically every spice you own is mixed to form the paste). I did have to go out and purchase one of the required spices (fenugreek) but you should be able to find it in a spice shop or an Indian grocer as it is also used in Indian cooking.
The doro wat came out great, the smell and taste almost on par with Abay’s version. It definitely is a comfort dish, one I feel is similar to a great Indian or Thai curry. I ended up serving it over white rice which was a decent enough of a substitute to injera. If you have an open mind in the kitchen, you won’t regret making this.
Chicken legs and thighs, skinless-2 lbs.
Lemon, juice only-1
Gingerroot, peeled and chopped-1 tablespoon
Oil or butter-1/4 cup
Berbere paste-1/4 to 1/2 cup (you can find a recipe for that here)
Water or stock-3/4 cup
Red wine-1/4 cup
Cayenne pepper-from 1 tsp
Salt and pepper-to taste
Hard-boiled eggs (optional)
While the chicken is marinating, puree the onions, garlic, and ginger in a food processor or blender. Add a little water if necessary.
Heat the oil or butter in a large pot over medium flame. Add the paprika and stir in to color the oil and cook the spice through, about 1 minute. Do not burn. Stir in the berbere paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the onion-garlic-ginger puree and saute until most of the moisture evaporates and the onion cooks down and loses its raw aroma, about 5-10 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to burn.
Pour in the water or stock and wine and stir in the chicken pieces, cayenne to taste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add water as necessary to maintain a sauce-like consistency.
Add the whole hard boiled eggs and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and very tender.
Adjust seasoning and serve hot with injera or rice.