ethiopium | jazz and a curry

Doro wat

Perhaps it’s just been too long since I was last in Africa, but I’ve been rather homesick lately. Yes, Australia is my home. I meant my other home. Lucky girl, I have two.

Anyway, I’ve been doing what I usually do to feel a little more like I’m at home – listening to 90s Afro-pop and making my favourite childhood dishes. Perennial diva, Angelique Kidjo, was on heavy rotation until I felt like I would become physically sick if I listened to any more Wombo Lombo. Time for a change of rhythm. I rediscovered a more recent Ethio-jazz album I hadn’t listened to since dubstep became a thing (guilty pleasure).

Out came the Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics album, Inspiration Information. Mulatu (ሙላቱ አስታጥቄ) is legendary as the father of ethio-jazz and this album is pure magic. Listening to the album one night, one thing led to another and I found myself making a version of doro wat, probably the most famous of all Ethiopian dishes.

Doro what? you say. Wat, wot or wet is Amharic for stew or curry and doro wat is a chicken and egg curry that, like most Ethiopian food, is shared and eaten in a group, usually scooped up with a bit of injera, a fermented flat bread that is fluffy, tangy and wholesome.

Doro wat is undeniably a favourite in our house. Spicy, smoky, zesty, nourishing, moreish, and filling – that’s a combination that’s hard to walk away from. Berbere is the key ingredient in this recipe but don’t be put off if you can’t find it. It won’t taste the same but it is still a tasty dish. Purists will throw stones at me for tainting the traditional recipe with the addition of coconut milk. To this I say I am sorry for the blasphemy, and that you should try this version too. It’s same same but different 🙂

Doro Wat (with a twist) – serves 4 as a main with rice/injera

You will need

  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 2 large skinless chicken breast fillets, diced (use jointed chicken if you prefer)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 capsicum (red is best), diced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or nit’r qibe if you can find it)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 x 2″ piece of root ginger, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons berbere spice mix (I make mine with berbere)
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 4 medium potatoes, parboiled and cut into quarters
  • 1 stock pot + 1 cup water or 250ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 eggs, boiled (I prefer 2 hardboiled and 2 softboiled)
  • 165ml tin coconut milk
  •  half a small bunch of coriander, chopped


How to

It is advisable that you listen to some Mulatu while you are making this dish. Here is one of my favourite tracks from the album: An Epic Story. Have a listen to Bahta Gèbrè-Heywèt too if you’re after something a little left of the middle.

  1. In a glass or plastic bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the lemon juice and stir well. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 15-30 minutes. This tenderises the chicken and introduces a little tang to the dish.
  2. etx5qbmHeat a large saucepan and add the onion. It is important that you do not add any oil or fat at this stage. This is how the smoky taste is imparted to the dish. It is traditional to sweat the onions for up to an hour. We will take 5 minutes, stirring to keep the onion from catching.
  3. 5tzt3stAdd the capsicum to the saucepan and stir well until the ingredients soften (they may blister a little before this happens, that’s ok) ~ 7 minutes.
  4. 5grirspCarefully add the ghee or nit’r qibe to the saucepan. As it will be very hot, it will sizzle a bit.
  5. tj5itxoOnce the onions and capsicum have begun to turn golden, stir in the garlic and ginger. Sauté the mixture for about 5 minutes – it will turn fragrant and deep golden.
  6. mlwz3kpMeanwhile, drain the chicken in a colander and set aside.ajv2s3v
  7. Now for my favourite part of cooking doro wat (other than eating it, of course) – sprinkle the spice mix over the mixture in the pan and stir well for a minute. The aroma of the spices is just magnificent!
  8. tscfhmjAdd the drained chicken pieces to the sautéed mixture and allow to seal, ensuring it is coated with the spices.
  9. mrxcqkiOnce the chicken is sealed (3-5 minutes), add the tomato to the saucepan. Let the tomato cook until it breaks down – be patient.
  10. 1xdo0tqNext up are the potatoes and stock. If you are using a stock pot, add a cup of water.telywpsetf1hju
  11. Stir and allow to come to a boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes to let the flavours meld.
  12. 54bvqtsShell and quarter the hardboiled eggs. If using softboiled eggs, leave them whole.
    Tip the eggs into the saucepan. If using softboiled eggs, use a wooden spoon to break the eggs. This way, the gooey yolks ooze into the sauce and make it richer.
  13. itnj05nPurists, look away now – you, add the coconut milk and stir through taking care not to disturb the eggs too much.
  14. frgp2s2Once heated through, take off the heat and top with coriander.
  15. Serve piping hot with rolls of injera or rice.
    Doro wat tastes better if you eat it with your hands. Licking fingers is optional but probably inevitable.

There you have it. A most sumptuous African curry fix. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

What do you crave when you’re feeling homesick or in need of some comfort food?

ethiopium | jazz and a curry

5 thoughts on “ethiopium | jazz and a curry

  1. My childhood favourite dish- I even wrote a post about it one time! I will refrain from judging the gulp coconut milk. Haha. Have you seen Mulatu live? He’s been out for Melb International Jazz fest a couple of times- he’s incredible. I took my dad to a gig some years back and the experience was improved greatly when who should be having a pre-gig dinner at The Horn* but the man himself! Was kinda weird having a star struck moment with an old ethiopian dude who kinda looks like my dad.

    *not my fave ethiopian in melb by a long shot

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no, now I’m a little embarrassed Mek. It’s definitely not a traditional version 🙂
      I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Mulatu live and I am jealous of your experiences now – it would be quite the treat. I will have to look out for future gigs. The closest I’ve been is watching his nephew DJ at a teppanyaki place in Nairobi (go figure!)
      What a fan-girl moment to dine in such close quarters. And your father must be a handsome man!
      So what is your favourite Ethiopian joint? I’ve eaten at Nyala but not the Horn xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure it was delicious. Faves (aside from my mum’s cooking) have to be addis abeba cafe in footscray or walia ibex (spelling?) in sunshine. I know the lady who owns nyala but was left scratching my head about the flavours, colours, textures of dishes…but they have a nice atmosphere and good location. Head out to footscray or sunshine though for the real deal…


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