Updated: Apr 9
The Horn of Africa conjures up images of beautiful landscapes, fascinating tribes and a cuisine inspired by the ancient Gulf of Arabia spice trade. Ethiopian cuisine is influenced by Arab and Indian flavors, but the region is famed for its own rare spices.
Spices such as Besobela and Koseret, which can only be found around the Horn of Africa, but more specifically Ethiopia, which gives this regions cuisines flavors that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. In the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa I found the nations main ingredient, Bebere. Bebere is the main spice bled in Ethiopia and what an amazing spice it is! I
Traveling across Ethiopia I was introduced to a whole new world of delicious flavors. One dish in particular that stuck with me was Doro Wat, A delicious blend of Onions, Ethiopian Spices and chicken slow cooked for hours to release the fragrant spices of Ethiopia.
Another Key component to Ethiopian cuisine is the sour flat bread, Injera. You cannot have a single meal in Ethiopia without the ubiquitous bread being brought out. Its cooked in a massive circle form and all of the meals are plopped on top of it using it as a plate. This way everyone shares from the same plate together slowly eating the plate itself. once again, food brings us together!
Learning to Make Doro Wat in Ethiopia
In the heart of Addis Ababa you will find the Addis Merkato. Here you can buy just about any product from all around Ethiopia. The spice market was my favorite part as I could barely recognize anything!
One of the shops welcomed me in when I told him I was "The Spice Merchant". He showed me an abundance of spices which I had never used before and how to blend them into the quintessential Ethiopian spice, Bebere.
Inviting me to his home I asked of his wife could teach me the secret behind an authentic Ethiopian Doro Wat. Although the answer to "what makes it authentic?" was "love", the market mans wife did show me their delicious recipe for Doro Wat. Here it is right from the heart of Ethiopia!
Ethiopian Doro Wat Recipe
Many would call this the national dish of Ethiopia! A delicious blend of Ethiopian Spices combined together in a thick based chicken stew!
Serving Prep Time Cook Time
4 Servings 35 min 1 .5 Hour
Ethiopian Doro Wat
2-4 Chicken Breasts or Thighs
6 Tbsp Ethiopian Berber Spice
3 Tbsp Sunflower Oil
3 Tbsp Niter Kebbeh (Recipe for Ethiopian Butter Below)
4 Garlic Cloves Finely Chopped
1/2 Tbsp Grated Ginger
Pinch Nigella Seeds
Pinch Ground Cardamon
1 tsp Salt
4 Hard Boiled Eggs
1 Injera to Serve
Step 1 - Niter Kebbeh
To make the Ethiopian butter take 1 pound of unsalted butter and cook on low heat until it is melted. Add the Niter Kebbeh spice mixture into the butter and cook for 15 min on low heat stirring every five minutes. Using a very fine strainer or cheese cloth sieve the spices out of the butter and put in the fridge until solid.
Step 2 - Doro Wat
Create a the spice paste first. Add the Bebere into a bowl with 6 Tbsp of water and stir until its a paste like substance. Next, dice the onions or blend in a blender to a very fine chop, almost a paste. Put onions into a deep pot and cook on medium heat until translucent, do not use any oil at this point.
When the onions become clear and fragrant add the garlic, ginger, Niter Kebbeh, Oil and Bebere paste. Cook for another 10 minutes until the fragrance becomes very strong. Be very careful not to burn the spices.
Add the remaining spices, chicken, and 1 cup of boiled water. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. You should cook the Doro Wat at this point for around an hour, keep an eye on the consistency, it should be a nice thick gravy rather than watery.
Waiting for the Doro Wat you can hard boil the eggs and have them ready to serve, make small cuts to the side of the eggs so the sauce gets in it. When its ready add the eggs on top of the Injera and pour the Doro Wat over it.
You can find Injera at local Ethiopian markets. If you have none near by to you here is a recipe you can try out, Injera Recipe. I highly recommend using Injera, but you can always substitute for a flat bread or rice.
Traveling to Ethiopia
I spent almost two months exploring Ethiopia. From the historic ancient churches in the North, The scorching deserts in the East which are home to the Somali's and the tribal regions of the South. Ethiopia is a diverse and culturally rich nation.
Part of the reason the country is so special as it is the only African nation to have never been colonized allowing Ethiopia to develop a truly rich "African" culture that is unique to anywhere on the planet.
Traveling Ethiopia comes with a plethora of challenges. Public transport is extremely unreliable, many regions have virtually no information and English can be hard to come by in many places, but those who brave it and love challenges will see why I love traveling in Ethiopia so much.
Ethiopia - Land of Tribes and Churches
Across Ethiopia you will find very distinctly different tribes. In the Southern Lower Omo Valley you can see tribes who still live a nomadic way of life and tribal wars over cattle are still a common practice. Visiting these tribes gives you a "real" experience of how all of us were at one time.
In the North of Ethiopia You can visit the oldest Christian churches on the planet. Lalibela is the shining gem of historical sights. With dozens of ancient stone churches cut straight down into the mountains remincing a fairy tale like scene. Its a bewildering experience climbing into some of these churches, monks are chanting and incense wafting through the halls. Its extremely ancient and remote feeling to be there and I highly recommend Ethiopia as one of my top favorite destinations on the planet.
See more of my Ethiopia adventures on Ethiopia - Uncharted Backpacker