Recipe: Doro Wat
Country: Ethiopia
Serves: 4 Adults or a family of 5
Download the pdf here.

by Todd Carmichael

Doro Wat is one of the best-known Ethiopian dishes, a favorite of mine that I eat while I am there, and I also make at home as a way to introduce my children (who are from Ethiopia) to the flavors of their homeland. The dish calls for several iconic Ethiopian ingredients: The first is Berbere spice, a heady pungent mix which can be purchased ready-made or you can use this recipe as a spice template, adding and subtracting as you see fit to tailor the spiciness you want. (I added a little finely ground coffee to represent the importance of coffee in Ethiopian life.) The other is niter kibbeh, a spiced clarified butter (like Indian ghee), and in this case, I used a combination of oil, whole butter, and a little extra Berbere, which will get you close to the same flavor without all the extra work and time.

dorowat 2 LCT

As with many dishes in Ethiopia, Doro Wat is served on injera, a thick sourdough “crepe” made with Teff flour, a species of lovegrass native to the northern Ethiopian Highlands of Northeast Africa (purchase here). You won’t get utensils with your Dodo Wat. Rather the stew is served over the injera, which acts as a serving “platter,” and additional injera is used (rolled or folded) to scoop up the stew. Just remember – Ethiopians use only their right hand for eating. Start practicing.

The Spices
Berbere Spice Mix/Part 1 (all whole spices; not pre-ground)
2 teaspoon fenugreek
2 teaspoons coriander seed
2 teaspoons cumin seed
½ teaspoon black peppercorn
½ teaspoon allspice berries
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds (out of pod, about 12)
6 whole cloves

Berbere Spice Mix/Part 2
4 Tablespoons sweet paprika (gives the dish its deep red color)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh finely ground coffee (We naturally used our single-origin Ethiopia-Gera coffee.)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

*This makes enough Berbere spice for 2 batches. Keeping the spices whole for as long as possible helps ensure their freshness – the same as with coffee.

The Stew
6 chicken legs, skinless, separated at joint
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
3 onions, peeled chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup Berbere spice
4 cups chicken stock
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled

For serving: cooked rice

In a small sauté pan, toast the Part 1 whole spices over medium-low heat until very aromatic, 3 to 5 minutes (while swirling the pan). Remove from the heat, and pour into a grinder or mortar to cool a bit (leaving in the pan could cause them to burn on one side as they sit on the hot surface). Grind the spices to a powder, and place in a sealable container. Add the Part 2 spices, and stir to combine. Spread the spices out to cool, then transfer to airtight container, seal and store until ready to use.

Place chicken in a large bowl, toss with lemon juice and salt, cover with plastic film, and refrigerate to marinate, 30 to 45 minutes.

Add the chopped onions, garlic, and ginger to a food processor, and pulse to a paste. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat, add the onion paste, and cook until the onion juice cooks away and the released sugars begin to stick and caramelize to the bottom of the pan. This can take about 20 minutes, and you should be stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until the onion mixture is lightly colored and dry, 5-10 minutes. Add the butter, oil and Berbere spice, and continue to cook for 5 minutes while continuously stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the spices into the onion (now more like a paste than a puree) mix and toast the spices to release their aroma.

Doro Wat 3 TCW

Add the chicken stock, and stir to combine all ingredients, bringing to a slow simmer. Add the chicken, pushing the pieces under the broth, and again bring to a simmer. Reduce temperature to low, and cover, cooking for 45 minutes. Remove cover, stir, and cook for an additional 30 minutes to let the ingredients reduce a bit. Add the hard-boiled eggs, pressing under the surface, and spooning the thickened mixture over to cover them. Turn off the heat, and cover. Let stand for 20 minutes as the dish cools down to eating temperature and all the flavors come together.

Serve over rice.


  1. I’m going to give this a try–I have most of the ingredients except for the fenugreek. I did some checking, and found that I can use a bit of maple syrup for a substitute (I have real syrup for that, not the Log Cabin type).

    My s/o likes to experiment with different foods as much as I do, which is great because this sounds really good.

  2. This looks amazing. Have all the spices, going to mix up things and try this weekend. Thanks. Love your passion about coffee and life in general. You entertain and teach beautifully.

  3. I made a version of the dish this evening, and will absolutely do it again. The scent that came from the spices as I toasted them in the pan was indescribable. Loved it. I won’t try the maple-syrup-as-fenugreek substitute again, and might scale back on the cinnamon as it kind of overpowered the other spices, but WOW it was good.

  4. This was great! Thank you. I especially enjoyed the wonderful photos!
    BTW, if you enjoy cooking Ethiopian, try Carla Hall’s recipe for Groundnut Stew. She uses sweet potatoes and creamy peanut butter! No mention of needing any freaking fenugreek!

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