Ethiopia: Doro Wat, Injera, and YeGomen Kitfo


My favorite restaurant in all of Madison is called Buraka. Buraka serves east African fare. There is no restaurant that has held my fancy for so long. In fact, in 2008, Buraka became my very first Yelp review. In case that link doesn't work, I will reprint most of the review here:

"This has been my favorite Madison restaurant ever since I walked in 7 years ago. Their menu hasn't changed in all that time, and I don't mind at all. Their salad dressing is magical in its deliciousness. All of their entrees are simple, hearty comfort food--serious meat and potatoes kind of fare! I took one of the pickiest eaters I've ever met there (she was scared of the place), and she walked away proclaiming it to be "delicious." Try the Coconut Curry Chicken or the Lamb Tibs--they're the shit. I would also recommend a refreshing 'Gin & Ting.'"

Allow me to summarize: I love Ethiopian food. Love it. It sits on a tall, ivory pedestal among Indian food and Thai food, and is lavished with praise and exotic flowers. I may or may not pray to it twice a day.

So. Yes. My friends Lauren and Becca were making a long journey from Minnesota to Ohio this weekend, and stopped over on Sunday night. Lauren, living in Minnesota as she does, has not had the chance to partake of any of the 50 countries--a fact that seemed to upset her (particularly where German dumplings were concerned). I made sure to save our friendship by making her Doro Wat and Injera (she, too, loves Buraka).

Because I cannot just make things easy on myself, I also decided to throw YeGomen Kitfo (spiced collard greens) into the mix. In hindsight, it was brilliant--we had just enough food to feed the 5 people that came for dinner. However, I put quite a bit on my plate (in the metaphorical sense) that day, didn't prepare the injera dough immediately upon coming home, and we ended up eating after 9pm. Oh well. It was worth it. I have witnesses that can testify to the deliciousness.

I think that part of the reason that all of this came out so mindblowingly delicious, is that I made two Ethiopian essentials: Niter Kibbeh (spiced clarified butter) and Berbere (red pepper sauce). There are many recipes for Doro Wat that either do not use these two things, or will tell you it's okay to substitute butter/olive oil. My advice? DON'T LISTEN TO THOSE RECIPES! Making these two things was the best decision I've ever made. I think they added an incredible depth of flavor that would be noticeably absent. So, the best plan of action I can suggest is to make these a day or two (or week) ahead of time and store them in the fridge. As such, I'm going to give those recipes first.

Niter Kibbeh
-1 lb unsalted butter
-1/4 cup onions, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped or pureed
-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
-4 cardamom seeds, crushed
-1 cinnamon stick
-2 whole cloves
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (this is me guessing, because the original recipe had a question mark where the amount should've been)
-1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
-1 teaspoon dried basil

1. In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter and bring to a gentle boil. When the top is foamy, add all other ingredients and reduce heat to a simmer. Gently simmer, uncovered, on low heat. After 45-60 minutes, surface will be transparent with milk solids on the bottom (**NOTE: My spices rose to the top, so it wasn't 'transparent' per se, but if you poked a hole in the spices, it was.**).

2. Pour liquid through cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container. Discard spices and solids. Cover tightly and store in fridge. Will keep for up to 2 months.

-2 teaspoons cumin
-1 teaspoon fenugreek
-1/2 teaspoon allspice
-1/2 teaspoon coriander
-1/2 teaspoon cardamom
-1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
-2 tablespoons cayenne (**NOTE: Okay. So, 2 tablespoons is a LOT of cayenne. Unless you know you can handle a crazy-hot amount of spice, start with 1-2 teaspoons, taste it, and go up from there. I used juuust under 1 tablespoon, which was plenty for all but the most heat-loving of us.**)
-2 tablespoons paprika
-4 dried chiles without stems (**I used Japones**)
-4 cloves garlic
-1 tablespoon fresh ginger
-1 small onion, chopped
-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Toast peppercorns for 1 minute, then crush with a mortar and pestle or back of your knife.

2. In a food processor, puree onions, garlic, ginger, and a 1/2 cup of water.

3. Add spices, chiles, and oil. Puree until smooth.

4. Transfer to a saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

5. Put in a jar and store in the fridge.

Doro Wat

-2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
-2 teaspoons lemon juice
-2 teaspoons salt
-2 onions, finely chopped
-1/4 cup Niter Kibbeh
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
-1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
-1/4 teaspoon cardamom
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 cup Berbere
-2 teaspoons paprika
-1/4 cup dry red wine
-3/4 cup water
-4 hardboiled eggs
-Black pepper to taste

1. Rinse and dry chicken pieces. Rub them with lemon and salt. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. In a heavy stockpoit, cook onions over medium heat for 5 minutes--do not let burn or brown. (**I felt it necessary to add a little oil while heating.**)

3. Stir in Niter Kibbeh. Add garlic and spices. Stir well.

4. Add Berbere and paprika. Saute for 3-4 minutes.

5. Pour in wine and water; bring to a boil. Cook briskly, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

6. Pat chicken dry and drop it into the simmering sauce, turning pieces until coated on all sides. Reduce heat, cover, simmer 15 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, pierce the peeled hardboiled eggs with a fork 1/4" into the egg, all over the surface.

8. After chicken has cooked for 15 minutes, add the eggs, turning them gently in the sauce. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Add pepper to taste before serving.

YeGomen Kitfo
-1 pound collard greens
-2 teaspoons Mitmita (**I used 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg**)
-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil OR 1 1/2 tablespoons Niter Kibbeh
-1/2 teaspoon cardamom
-1/2 teaspoon garlic
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Water as needed

1. Separate leaves, cut and discard the ends. Wash well in cold water. Finely chop the leaves. Soak in cold water.

2. Boil 8 cups of water. Add greens. Cook 20 minutes or until tender and leaves absorb all the water. (**NOTE: Yep. Mine definitely cooked for 30 minutes, and while they were pretty tender, there was a lot of water left over. Oh well. Toss the water and enjoy!**)

3. In a medium pot on lower heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and add in all spices, stirring until combined.

4. Combine collard greens with butter mix. Mix with a fork and spoon until completely combined, adding salt and pepper to taste.

-3 cups self-rising flour
-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup teffa (african flour), cornmeal, or masa harina (**I used masa harina**)
-1 package active dry yeast
-3 1/2 cup warm water

1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Let sit in a bowl, covered, an hour or longer until the batter rises and becomes stretchy.

2. When ready, stir batter if liquid has settled on bottom. In a blender, whip 2 cups of butter at a time, thinning with 1/2-3/4 cup water. Batter will be quite thin.

3. Heat a skillet without oil over medium-high heat.

4. Use 1/2 cup butter per injera for a 12" pan or 1/3 cup for 10" pan. Pour batter in heated pan and quickly swirl the pan to spread batter as thin as possible.

5. Batter should be no thicker than 1/8". Don't turn over. Injera doesn't easily stick or burn. It's cooked through when bubbles appear all over the top.

6. Finished injera will be thicker than a crepe, but thinner than a pancake. Lay injera on a clean towel for 1-2 minutes . Then stack on a covered dish to keep warm.

Verdict: Definitely one of the best 50 Countries feasts so far! I would make it again and again, despite all the effort it took. I also think I would try making this vegetarian by substituting extra-firm, pressed tofu for the chicken.

P.S. This challenge is dedicated to our friend Sabrina and Aram's adorable baby, Desmond. Desmond was adopted from Ethiopia. So, not only does Ethiopia produce the most delicious food, it also produces the sweetest and cutest babies. Kudos, Ethiopia!


d.n.williamson said...

My brother in law lives in Ethiopia. They have talked about doro wat. I found a recipe and was thinking about making it. Some of the spices I have never used (have heard of all of them...) Are they easy to find?

Heather said...

I've found most of the ingredients are pretty common and easy to find. If you have an asian grocery store available, that's where you'd be most likely to find fenugreek.

~Lisa~ said...

I adore Ethiopian food! And I always wondered how to make injera. Great post!

Anonymous said...

I made the doro wat for supper tonight. It was good. Not particularly difficult, just time consuming. I skipped the inerja in favor of rice. It took me just over two hours.


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