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My first time at making Ethiopian Food!

August 27, 2010

I had my first taste of Ethiopian Food a few years ago when I was living in Washington, DC. It was truly a great cuisine, with some of the most unique flavor combinations I have come across. The spices they use are very similar to what we use in Indian cuisine, but the way the spices are incorporated into the food of Ethiopia make for completely new flavor experiences that blew me away. I hope African food comes into the mainstream soon because it truly is spectacular.

I went grocery shopping a few days ago and my dad really wanted to pick up some fresh dates. So we headed over to the International Food Market in Nashville (2588 Logan St if you live here). Surprisingly, this store that I had been going to since before I can remember moved locations across the street into this brand spankin’ new strip. The store looks great and while my dad was picking and eating dates, I went around to see if they had anything new. I came across an Ethiopian spice blend called berbere and as you all know, I love spices and spice rubs and use them heavily in all of my cooking. So, I had to pick this up and I knew we were going to have Ethiopian food that night. The store even had some of the freshest injera bread that is used both as a utensil and starch in Ethiopian cuisine.

So, without further ado, here’s my recipe for a great introduction to Ethiopian Food – Doro Wett or Chicken Stew. It’s a great dish and if you’re interested in trying out new cuisines, give this one a try.

Doro Wett or Chicken Stew (serves 4)

(adapted from Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa)

This recipe has two parts – making a spiced butter and then making the stew.

Spiced Butter:

3/4 lb ghee or clarified butter

1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

One 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

8 basil leaves

Melt the ghee over low heat and skim off any foam that comes to the top. Without letting the butter brown, add all the remaining ingredients. Let the butter get infused with all the flavor, about 15 minutes. Let the ghee cool down a bit and then strain the mixture through a fine sieve. You know have nit’ir qibe, which is a spiced butter used in a lot of Ethiopian cooking. Store it in your fridge and you will have a great and very flavorful cooking fat.

Ok, so now onto the stew.

2 medium red onions, diced


1/4 cup spiced butter

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

One 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon Berbere

2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided

One 4-to 5-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces (keep the bone in, but remove the skin)

1/4 cup dry red wine

Juice of 1 lime

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

First, heat a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pan over medium low heat. Add 1/2 the spiced butter, onion and salt. Let this mixture cook until the onions start caramelizing and turning brown, about 15-20 minutes. Then, add the rest of the butter, the cardamom, black pepper, cloves, garlic, ginger, and berbere. Let the spices cook into the onions to almost make a paste, about 10 more minutes.

Add two cups of stock and put in the dark meat (legs and thighs). Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 15 minutes, with the pot uncovered. Then, add the rest of the stock and the red wine and add the white meat. Let this continue to simmer on medium to medium low heat for another 25-30 minutes.

You are technically, braising on the stove, so you want the sauce to really reduce to all those great flavors get concentrated. If the sauce is too liquidy, pull the chicken out so it doesn’t overcook and turn up the heat to medium and let the sauce cook down so it coats the chicken like in the picture.

When the chicken is perfectly cooked and the sauce is to the proper thickness, add the lime juice and the hard boiled eggs. Toss them aroundd

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2010 7:03 AM

    We have a few places here in Houston I need to try out. Also, saw the pork shoulder …looks great! I posted a crockpot pulled pork recipe on the blog a few months back. Obviously doesn’t have the smokey flavor, but it’s very good and easy. Good recipe for entertaining or a football game. Titans suck!

  2. August 28, 2010 10:14 AM

    Where did you get berbere? In Nashville? I need to find some berbere spice mix and try to make this! Yum!

    • August 28, 2010 9:49 PM

      I got it from the International Food Mart at 2588 Logan St. It’s very close to the intersection of Nolensville Road and Thompson Lane.

      They have some great stuff to check out in addition to their spices – fresh dates, fresh breads (injera, pita), middle eastern cheeses and olive oil!

      And if you get a chance to stop for lunch, go to House of Kabob down the street and order the lamb shank. One of the best dishes in the world.

  3. September 1, 2010 8:16 AM

    I ate that sucker, it was sooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooood.

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