Doro Wat, spicy chicken

Doro Wat is one of Ethiopia’s national dishes and, as such, is full of flavour.

The spice mix of this, and several other Ethiopean, dishes isBerber. It is a combination of spices that is unique to the region. My recipe for Berber does not include chilli. Instead, I add chilli (as harissa paste) as a separate ingredient allowing you to control the ‘heat’ of the dish, while not changing the balance of the other spices. I hope this will encourage people who do not like ‘hot’ spicy food to try this wonderful dish.

The chilli in this recipes is what I consider to be a medium heat, i.e. one which does not overwhelm the other flavours. I have recommended ‘harissa’ because it is a product with a specific heat. Do adjust the quantities or use fresh chilli if you wish.

Traditionally butter, in large quantities, is used to brown the onions. I recommend oil and have significantly reduced the quantity. This does change the flavours of this traditional dish; but it makes the Doro Wat suitable for Dairy Free diets and results in a healthier dish. However, because there is less fat the ingredients will burn easily; so add a little water if they dry out and continue to cook until they have darkened.

Like all spicy dishes, the flavours develop when this one is chilled and served later, preferably a day or two. Serve it with rice orInjera, Ethiopian flat bread which is Gluten Free and Fodmap friendly.

Diets for which Doro Wat is suitable:

Diabetic, Diary Free, Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat and Nut Free.


Preparation: 15 mins | Cooking: 90+ mins | Serves: 4

1 kg (2 lb) chicken drumsticks
1/2 tbsp oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tbsp minced ginger
3 tablespoonBerber
2 tsp harissa*
400 gm (13 oz) tomato, chopped (fresh or tinned)**
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chicken stock or water
2 eggs, hard boiled (optional)


HEAT the oil in a saucepan over a low heat.
ADD the ginger, onions, and garlic and cook until soft, approximately 15 mins.
ADD the Berber and tomato, stir regularly and cook until it darkens, 10-15 mins. (Add a little water as the mix becomes very dry.)
REMOVE the skin from the chicken.
ADD cardamom, chicken, salt, pepper, stock to the pan and cover.
BOIL and then reduce to a low heat.
COOK for 30 minutes and check. (The cooking time will vary with the size of chicken pieces and the heat of the burner.)
PLATE with sauce and topped with egg (traditional but not essential).


– Traditionally served withInjera or rice (tryGinger Rice).
– Good with Ethiopian Greens or a green salad


* Replace harissa with any chilli paste or fresh chilli (though chilli level will be different).
** This quantity need not be specific, 1 can of tomatoes is suitable.

Other spice recipes you may like:

Sweet Chilli Sauce
Spicy Steamed Plums
Spiced Nuts

Leave a Reply