Doro Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

My current favourite Paleo Blog is Nom Nom Paleo. If you haven’t been to her epicness of a blog, make sure you do it now! Her photos are incredible, and all her recipes look super delicious. Best still, her content is neatly laid out with useful tips for the Paleo eaters, in and out of the kitchen. I like to look at her recipe index when I try to plan my meals for the next few days, for some inspiration. And one thing that has always jumped out is her Doro Wat recipe.

Obviously, the name itself is intruiging, but the pictures were the main reason why I wanted to cook the dish (and eat it). Doro Wat is apparently the most popular Ethiopian food, and is characterized by its use of various spices and plenty of heat. It looks a lot like a curry, though does not have the usual coconut milk or yoghurt as base. Nom Nom Paleo’s version is served with perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs, though in the traditional recipe, the eggs are braised in the gravy too. I’m not a huge fan of overcooked eggs, so this is perfect for me.

Doro Wat
Doro Wat

The most important part of this recipe is the Berbere Seasoning. It’s made with quite a few spices, and plenty of chili. I didn’t even bother looking for it in the supermarket (pretty sure it would be a futile attempt), so I refer to this recipe and made some adaptations. If you ever come across it locally, please let me know!

Berbere Seasoning
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 white cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
2 tablespoons Chili Powder (I also added some Cayenne Pepper for extra heat)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small skillet, combine coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice, cardamom pods, and cloves. Toast spices over medium heat, swirling skillet constantly, until fragrant. Let cool slightly; transfer to a grinder to grind until fine.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in chili powder, paprika, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Use in Doro Wat or Misr Wat. I used the entirely quantity in my Doro Wat. Feel free to tone down the heat to your preference or tolerance level.


Now let’s make this fiery stew!

Doro Wat
3 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 10 drumsticks), skin on or off
Kosher salt
¼ cup ghee
2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
3 Tablespoons Homemade Berbere Seasoning (if you use store-bought, around 1-2 tablespoons should be enough)
2 cups chicken stock
4 hard-boiled eggs
Juice from 1 lime (I used Lemon juice)

Season the drumsticks in salt and lemon juice. Set aside until needed.

Heat the ghee in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, and let them cook undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes. Then gently turn over the pile of onions every 3 to 4 minutes to ensure even cooking. Once the onions have softened and significantly reduced in volume, about 15 minutes, turn the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking, turning over the onion pile every 10 minutes or so, for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and nicely caramelized.

Stir the garlic and ginger into the caramelized onions, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the berbere seasoning, followed by the chicken stock and stir well.

Nestle the drumsticks into the liquid, and bring the contents of the pot to a low simmer. Cover and cook, turning the drumsticks occasionally, for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and cooked through.

In the meantime, make and peel 4 hard-boiled eggs. (I cook mine room temperature for 6 minutes in a slow simmer.)

Once the chicken’s done, remove the lid of the Dutch oven and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced by approximately one-third. Add lemon juice and turn off heat.

To serve, cut up the hard boiled eggs into wedges, place a few drumsticks on a plate surrounded with eggs, then pour the delicious sauce over.

So delicious!
So delicious!

The verdict? Despite being ‘milk’ free, the gravy is quite substantial and thick, thanks to the well caramelised onions. It has a great depth of flavour and spicy enough to heat my body up, but being a chili addict, I think I would go more heavy-handed in the chili/cayenne pepper next time. I enjoyed this with a side of vegetables (of course, this would go really well with rice and bread too) and finish the whole batch in 5 meals because Frank doesn’t eat chicken (missing out big time actually). Thank you Nom Nom Paleo!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. suituapui says:

    Gosh!!! Your eggs are making me drool! 😀 Chicken looks great!

    1. kellysiew says:

      Nothing better than perfectly cooked eggs!

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  3. chicken with eggs? i’m in already, just with those three words! the recipe looks mighty interesting, and i love all the ingredients you used. from the pics though, i wouldn’t have guessed it’s spicy at all, it looks like a sweet-ish dish =)

    1. kellysiew says:

      It’s sweet indeed from the onions but does have plenty of kick, but I’m a little crazy, so I would actually drown it in chilies next time! 😀 The eggs were the reason I wanted to try this.

  4. shuhan says:

    This looks delicious Kelly! All the ingredients, up my alley. Such a warm comforting bowl of goodness; this is definitely one for the rainy day when one just want to curl up and eat 🙂

    1. kellysiew says:

      Oh yeah! It’s very comforting!

  5. Phong Hong says:

    Hi Kelly! This chicken recipe sure is tempting. Very hard to do paleo eating during CNY. And thanks for introducing Nom Nom Paleo. I went over and am now a fan. Here’s wishing you Gong Xi Fa Cai!

    1. kellysiew says:

      It’s the oppposite for me because CNY is time for me to rest and I will actually be starting my whole 30 Paleo diet from tomorrow onwards! Wish me luck.

  6. My hubby got absolutely hooked on this post…. Bookmarked and gonna try for sure

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