Chicken wat

I’ve been craving something spicy for the last couple of days! I remember eating an Ethiopian stew called wat when I visited my friend in Virginia. Wat is an Ethiopian stew or curry made with chicken, beef, lamb, or vegetables.

My friend was attending college at that time. I got the chance to meet a few of her friends while I was visiting. They were from Ethiopia. One night, she hosted an international dinner. Her friends brought Injera, which is an Ethiopian bread, and spicy chicken stew. It was so delicious!

In big cities, you’ll probably find this dish at a restaurant. I don’t have that option. I decided to do what I always do and create my own! I’ve visited numerous websites and scanned through a few cookbooks to make berbere. Berbere, which is a spice mixture, is essential for the stew’s flavor. Mine may not be authentic, but it’s pretty close to what I had at my friend’s house.

This stew is pretty spicy. If that’s an issue, you may want to use 1/2 or even less berbere in the recipe. If you do, make sure to add the corresponding amount of paprika. It’ll give the wat that signature red aesthetic without the extra spice.

Berbere spice mix

  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup ground red pepper
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp coriander ground
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp each ground cardamom, cinnamon, fenugreek
  • 1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg, allspice, cloves

Toast spices in a heavy fry pan on stove top. Stir frequently for 5-8 minutes. Cool and store in a tightly sealed container in refrigerator or freezer.

Making this will get you 1 cup of spice. This recipe only requires 1/4. You can use the rest to make more or for other dishes.

Chicken and egg

  • 2.5 lbs bone-in chicken thigh with skin, cut into 2-3 pieces
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 11/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs ghee
  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 2 cup yellow onions, pulsed in food processor till finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup berbere
  • 1/4 tsp each ground cardamom, fenugreek, nutmeg
  • 2 tbs paprika
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 hard boiled egg, peeled, cut shallow slits in each

Mix chicken with lemon juice and salt. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, melt ghee. Add onion. Cook covered on low heat until onions are soft but not browned for 10 minutes. Stir often.

Add oil, garlic, and ginger. Stir. Cook covered for another 5 minutes, stirring often on low heat. Add berbere, paprika, fenugreek, cardamom, and nutmeg. Stir well. Cook on low for 2-3 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of water. Stir. Add chicken to the sauce. Turn pieces until fully coated. Cover. Cook on low for 40 minutes. Turn few times to coat chicken evenly. Add a little water if too dry. Sauce should be same consistency as heavy cream.

Add eggs to the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Remove the chicken skin before serving if preferred.

Serves: 6

2 thoughts on “Chicken wat

  1. Christina, thanks for reminding me of this beloved recipe. We love both Doro (chicken) and Yebeg (lamb) wat at our house, and I have a recipe for an easy (not authentic, but pretty good) form of Injera bread. If you want it let me know!

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