How to make Doro Wot (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

Doro Wot (or Doro Wat) is perhaps the most famous recipe to have come out of East Africa. It is a dry, deliciously sharp, aromatic and spicy chicken stew.
Doro Wot, with Berbere
Doro Wot, with Berbere
Ethiopian Doro Wot

Doro Wot (or Doro Wat) is perhaps the most famous recipe to have come out of East Africa. It is a deliciously sharp, aromatic and spicy chicken stew, and simply perfect with Injera or any grains you fancy.

Ethiopian Chicken Stew

There are, in fact, many different types of Wots (stews) in the region but for whatever reason, it is the Doro Wat that seems to have captured the Western World’s imagination.

Considered the national dish of both Ethiopia and Eritrea, Doro Wot is a legend in itself. No self respecting Ethiopian female is going to be be unfamiliar with the cooking of Doro Wot. If she is, mum’s the word, because every Ethiopian will tell you that to catch a husband, you’ll have to know how to cook Doro Wot!

As mentioned in previous Ethiopian recipe posts, my small amount of Ethiopian culinary experience comes from the time I spent cooking in an Ethiopian restaurant in London in the 90s. It was run by a couple of friends of mine who started off as students in my (Italian) cooking classes.

Authentic Doro Wot Recipe

What I love about small, family run “ethnic” restaurants is the authenticity that is found within their kitchens. Every single dish that was made in Ben and Samira’s kitchen was, as much as possible, the way it was cooked as they were growing up, and by their mothers and grandmothers.

Cooking Doro Wot in their restaurant kitchen was a long, drawn out affair; 2 hours to cook the onions alone, with alternate additions of Berbere (Ethiopian spice mix), Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian Clarified Butter) and water in small amounts, after the first hour. At the end of this, we would have a dark, thick sauce called kulet, and only then, will the chicken pieces go in, to cook for another 45 – 60 minutes.

Did I mention long, drawn out affair?

When you think about it, many stews and curries do go through a long cooking time, like the Malay/Indonesian Beef Rendang, the Kashmiri Rogan Josh, Oxtail Stew, and so many more. The difference is that much of the time it takes to cook Doro Wot, is hands on.

Doro Wot, Ethiopian Chicken Stew on Injera
Doro Wot is always perfect with Injera

Not everything is Quick and Easy

While I like to give my readers easy recipes here and there, I also like you to be able to experience authenticity as much as is possible. While I’m not African, and have only had the pleasure of working and travelling in North Africa (see my North African and Middle Eastern pages), I have cooked in an Ethiopian kitchen.

So you might as well benefit from that small amount of real experience I have!

With that in mind, I’m going to give you 2 methods:

  1. the quick-ish version that is popular on many food sites
  2. slightly drawn out affair, I’ll cut the onion cooking time to 1 hour!

Sound good? Let’s quickly take a look at some of the ingredients.

Doro Wot, Ethiopian Chicken Stew

The Ingredients

The prep time and total cooking time for both these recipes, do not include the making of Berbere and Niter Kibbeh. They are meant to be made days earlier and stored, to be used when needed.

Berbere, Ethiopian Spice Mix

Click here for the recipe. Berbere is a fiery red Ethiopian dry spice mix that gives Ethiopian wots (stews) their characteristic flavour and colour. I covered this recipe in a post recently, in preparation for cooking the Doro Wot. It is a simple quick recipe, once you have all the ingredients at hand. I would highly recommend making it before cooking our wot, or get a shop bought one.

Be careful though, I would never dream of buying “exotic” spice mixes from just anybody because they are hardly ever close to being authentic. They always have far too many unnecessary ingredients added in. Take a look at my post and its explanation, and then you can compare the ingredients with your ready made version, if you like.

Niter Kibbeh, Ethiopian Spiced Clarified Butter

Click here for the recipe. Another recipe I covered in a comprehensive post not too long ago, and once again, in preparation for today’s recipe. Clarified butter is very easy to make at home, and takes about 30 minutes. If you feel like flexing your culinary muscles, I would encourage you to make it, for the true experience.

If not, get shop bought ghee (Indian clarified butter) or use butter, and add a small piece of garlic, small piece of fresh ginger and a bay leaf to our recipe here.

Lemon juice in Doro Wot

Traditionally, the chicken (doro) was soaked in a bucket of water, salt and fresh lemon juice for at least an hour. The idea was to get the “stink” out of the chicken. These days, most of us have access to “stink free” chickens, don’t we?

However, in keeping with the slight flavour the lemon juice imparts, the practice of using it has been retained by many. Although many food sites that blog this recipe, have no idea why, they just do it because that’s what they’ve seen in the recipes they are referring to!

Does Doro Wot contain Tomatoes?

Not in my experience. Never once did we cook it with tomatoes in the restaurant; it is apparently, a fairly modern addition, how modern, I have no idea. All I know is that Samira’s mum would just say,

no, no tomato!

What they would occasionally add to their doro wot, would be a small amount of t’ej, an Ethiopian honey mead, just about 3-4 Tbsp for the recipe here. This would add a touch of sweetness to the dish, which was rather nice. I do the same, from time to time, and have given it as an optional ingredient here.

Having said that, I know a couple of Ethiopian families who’ve always added tomatoes to their doro wot. To each his own.

Final Sprinkle of Spices

I was taught to finish off the wot with a final sprinkle of another Ethiopian spice mix called mekelesha. Much like you’d finish Indian recipes with some garam masala. However, in the absence of mekelesha, I just hold back some of the berbere, and use that instead. One of these days, I’ll post the mekelesha recipe and link up!

Injera Ethiopian Flatbread Recipe
Injera Ethiopian Flatbread Recipe (click for recipe

How to Serve Doro Wot

Traditionally, it would be served with Injera (above), the Ethiopian flatbread made with Teff flour. You can find my recipes here. Yes, recipes in the plural, as I give you a quick and traditional method.

That’s all that I can think of as far as technicalities go. Let’s get cooking, and if you have any questions, if I’ve missed out on explaining anything, just let me know in the comments below.

If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Doro Wot, with Berbere

Doro Wot (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

Doro Wot (or Doro Wat) is perhaps the most famous recipe to have come out of East Africa. It is a dry, deliciously sharp, aromatic and spicy chicken stew.
4.99 from 71 votes
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Course: Main Course with Bread or Rice
Cuisine: Eritrean, Ethiopian
Keyword: chicken, ethiopian, stew
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 58 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 8 minutes
Servings: 8 (Serves 6-8)
Calories: 236kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Ingredients

  • 1 kg chicken mixed portions
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 large white onion chopped
  • 3 Tbsp berbere
  • 3 Tbsp niter kibbeh
  • 250 ml water
  • 4 boiled eggs

Optional

  • 4 Tbsp t’ej honey mead

Instructions

Quicker Method (1 hour)

  • Rub the chiken pieces all over with the lemon juice and salt, and set it aside while you chop the onions and get the other ingredients ready. If you have time, leave the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the niter kibbeh (clarified butter) in a large saucepan on medium heat and sauté the onions for 5 minutes, until they start to soften.
  • If using t’ej (honey mead), add it now and let it bubble away for 1 minute.
  • Now, add most of the berbere (keeping aside 1/2 tsp), and cook for two minutes, mixing everything in well. Add a touch of water if it’s too dry.
  • Add the water, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken pieces, stir, increase heat and bring it back to boil. Once again, lower heat, and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.
  • Prick the eggs in 3 places with a small knife and add them to the stew. Stir gently to mix. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the doro wot with the remaining berbere, stir and take off heat.

Method 2 (1 hour 32 minutes)

  • Take a large saucepan, and on medium heat, start to sauté your onions. After 5 minutes, lower the heat down to low and continue to dry fry for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to stop the onions from burning.
  • If using the t’ej, add it now and let it cook off for a couple of minutes.

Now, we are going to add the berbere, water and niter kibbeh in 3 additions.

  • Start with 1 Tbsp of the berbere, stir, add 1/3 of the water and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 Tbsp niter kibbeh, stir and cook for a minute.
  • Add 1 more Tbsp of berbere with 1/2 water, stir and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the second Tbsp of niter kibbeh and cook for 1 minute.
  • Final round: add most of the remaining berbere (reserving 1/2 tsp) and the rest of the water, stir and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the niter kibbeh and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
  • Now our kulet (sauce) is ready for the doro (chicken). Add the chicken pieces, stir, increase the heat and bring it back to boil. Once again, lower heat, and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Add just a small amount of water, if you would like more sauce in your wot.
  • Prick the eggs in 3 places with a small knife and add them to the stew. Stir gently to mix. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the doro wot with the remaining berbere, stir and take off heat.
  • Serve as suggested above.

Nutrition

Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 868mg | Potassium: 213mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 360IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg
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18 thoughts on “How to make Doro Wot (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)”

  1. 4 stars
    Hello. I am from Ethiopia. Your recipe is good. I would like to thank you for sharing our traditional food. By the way you can add tomatoes in your doro wet. It makes it taste better. The other thing is we Ethiopians do not add Berbere at the end. Because it doesn’t taste good. Instade of Berbere use spices like Mekelesha and Tikur kimem. And you forgot to add ginger and garlic. Without ginger and garlic the doro wot will not taste good. Thank you so much

    1. Thanks Yordanos, your suggestion is totally appreciated.
      However, you must remember that what you and your family do is not necessarily what another would do 100 miles away from you. If you take a look at the article, you’ll see that I learnt this recipe from Ethiopians who ran a restaurant in London.

      Also I mention in the article above the reason I finish the wot with berbere is because berbere is a recipe I have on this site and is something that’s possible to find in Europe and the US. I haven’t found the time to publish mekelesha and it’s not something that can be found easily outside of East Africa.
      But I still value your input.

  2. Your kitchen must be full of nice aroma with all those homemade spices and homegrown herbs & plants!
    In Japanese we say, “胃袋を掴む”, meaning “catching someone’s stomach”, I suppose the concept is wolrdwide.

  3. Sophie Veldeman

    Hi, I made the doro wot for the first time with your recipe, after getting inspired tasting the dish in a Ethiopian restaurant. It’s sooo tasty, and was easy to make. I’m looking forward to eat the leftovers, usually tasting even better :-)). I’ll defenetly try more of your recepies. Happy New year! Sophie from Leuven, Belgium.

    1. Hi Sophie, I’m so glad to hear that! And I’m glad you found it easy to make, not everyone is a big fan of spending more than 30 minutes on a recipe! It really is one of my favourite recipes too.
      A very happy New Year to you too! x

  4. Thank you for one of the best written article and recipes I have ever read about one of my favourite childhood recipes ever! I salute you, your honesty and your knowledge, Chef!

  5. Oh I have been waiting for this recipe from you since you published the kibeh recipe! I’ve been in the US since I was a kid and this brings back so many memories! Thank you, I have never seen a Doro Wot recipe and background like this before. I have tried so many recipes out there and all these food bloggers just copy each other, then they add an extra ingredient or two to make the recipe different. And they tasted nothing like how I remember. But I see your writing here, and I believe you know what you are talking about. I am going to try this recipe on Sunday. On Saturday, I will make the kibeh and Berbere. Thank you, Chef. I will let you know what I think.

    1. Amisha, I appreciate those kind words. Most of my recipes are based on actual experience. If not, then I give credit where credit is due. My recipes do tend to be “original” in that respect, as I always have a reason for doing something.
      Let me know how all the recipes go, and good luck! x

  6. Simona Williams

    Wow, Ethiopean! This looks soo different from the usual stews I read about on blogs. I will set some time aside and have a go at this. Thank you.

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