Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Adventures in African Cooking: Wat is That?

Warm greetings from my frozen little corner of Central New York.
I've been looking forward to this for many days... my first doro wat made at home.

Wat's that, you ask?

Well, 'wat' is the ethiopian word for stew. Doro wat is chicken stewed in a spicy berbere-based sauce. It's something that I enjoyed while travelling in Africa, as well as several restaurants in the greater Atlanta area. Now that I'm living in central New York State, there are a sad few ethnic restaurants, and no Ethiopian--or even African--eateries to be found, save for the local Italian places. There is one Mexican restaurant, and it's horrid--not a Hispanic person to be found on the premises. But I digress.

Many doro wat recipes I discovered online called for a whole chicken or various chicken parts (bone & skin-on), but any time I've ordered it in a restaurant--in the Atlanta area, in Addis Ababa, and in Cape Town, anyway--it was drumsticks only.

I started with a pretty basic recipe, but doubled the berbere, because I like it hot. I shouldn't have. My original rendition was way too hot, and so I took advantage of having started cooking very early in the day to make an extra batch of the butter-onions-garlic-ginger-spice-water mixture to add to the existing stew to 'thin' the spicyness of the extra berbere.

It worked. It's still quite spicy, but not chokingly so. And my house smells delicious.

My brother, Aaron (on the right), came at 1 o'clock along with Wayne (left), our long-time family friend to share a meal of doro wat with my americanized injera which, while not authentic, served to scoop up bits of stew reasonably well enough. So I must say that although my last post identified the americanized injera as a resounding failure, it actually was not. Certainly not as flexible nor the same flavor as injera made from teff, my injera gave the same 'mouth feel' as eating the real stuff.

I served two sides with the doro wat: a lovely boiled cabbage and carrot mixture sauteed in niter kebbeh, and a salad of chopped iceburg lettuce, tomato with a red wine vinaigrette.

The doro wat was spot on perfect, and went a long way to satisfy the cravings I've been having for the year plus since I've moved away from Atlanta and my favorite Ethiopian restaurants.

My recipe follows--this makes a saucy, delicious wat; feel free to substitute any meat you desire. Steak would be yummy!

Doro Wat

2-1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks, thawed, rinsed and poked all over with a fork or skewer
2 Tbsp lime juice
4 cups finely chopped onion
1/2 cup salted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger root, scraped and finely chopped
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (plus one extra good shake)
1/2 cup berbere paste
4 Tbsp paprika
2 cups water
5 hard cooked eggs, peeled

Place chicken drumsticks in a plastic zip-top bag and add the lime juice. Close top and shake all around to coat all chicken pieces with juice. Put in the refrigerator while you prepare and complete the next steps (about 30 minutes).

In a heavy, oven-safe pot with a lid, cook the onions in the butter until transparent. Add garlic, ginger, spices, berbere and paprika, stirring to combine after each addition. Pour in water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced to a heavy cream consistency. Reduce to a simmer.

Remove chicken from baggie; shake off any extra juice and add to the sauce. Cover and move pot to a preheated 350*F oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Add peeled eggs, re-cover pot and return to oven for an additional 30 minutes at 200*F.

Note on peeling ginger: this is easiest to do with a spoon! It removes the brown peel without wasting the ginger.

So I'll be hunting the perfect way to make real injera with teff over the next couple of weeks. For now, this closes my current adventures in African cooking.


Mrs. W


Naomi Devlin said...

hey, the doro wot sounds fantastic - I'm going to try it. Although I have to say that those eggs look a little disturbing.

I have found a recipe for Injera which I'm going to try with some brown teff. I'll let you know how I get on.

Mrs. W said...

Hah... that really made me laugh! I love the eggs with it, and that is how it's served in Ethiopia and at Ethiopian restaurants in the U.S. that I've been to (although they serve the stew right atop injera with the cooked egg). But you're right--it does look odd!

Have fun making it--it is SUPER hot. Yum... now I want some.

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