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Ethiopia's National Dish

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Doro Wat

12 servings

In Ethiopia and for Ethiopians in the Washington area, no holiday meal is complete without doro wat -- a spicy chicken stew that includes whole, hard-boiled eggs. Senedu Zewdie, owner of Sodere restaurant on Ninth Street NW, uses a recipe passed down from her mother, Bogelch W-Maryam.

Doro wat, like many Ethiopian dishes, is extremely spicy for those unaccustomed to the cuisine. To enjoy the sauce, dip injera bread into it. Allow at least 4 1/2 hours for the preparation of this traditional dish.

8 cups chopped onion

6 1/2 cups water

Once 6-ounce can tomato paste

2 cups spiced butter*

1 1/2 cups berbere*

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground ginger

6 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs

6 bone-in, skinless chicken legs

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup sweet white wine

12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

In a pot large enough to eventually hold all the ingredients, on medium-low heat, heat the onions and 1/2 cup of the water, stirring occasionally, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the onions have turned golden brown.

Add the tomato paste to the pot and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring to incorporate until heated through. Add the spiced butter, berbere, garlic and ginger. When the butter has melted, adjust the heat to low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

When the spice-onion mixture has cooked for 30 minutes, prepare the chicken. In a medium pot on high heat, add the chicken with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat slightly to poach the chicken, about 15 minutes. Drain the chicken, discarding the cooking liquid.

When the spice-onion mixture has cooked for a total of 1 hour, add the chicken to it and let cook for an additional hour over low heat.

Add the remaining 6 cups of water and stir carefully to incorporate the liquid. Let cook, adjusting the heat to a simmer, until the sauce thickens and heats through, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cardamom, black pepper and wine. Mix in the hard-cooked eggs and cook for 15 minutes.

*NOTES: Spiced butter, known as nitir kibe , is sold in small tubs at Ethiopian markets.

Berbere, also sold at such markets, is a ground spice mixture dominated by red chili pepper. Manufacturers have their own secret recipes.

Recipe tested by Stephanie Sedgwick; e-mail questions tofood@washpost.com

Ingredients too variable for meaningful analysis.

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