Skip to Content

Doro Wat – Ethiopian Chicken Stew

Sharing is caring!

Doro wat takes a lot of time to make but it’s so worth the effort!

If you’re looking for a delicious curry to try, you can’t go wrong with a classic Ethiopian doro wat.

This is one of Ethiopia’s national dishes and also one of Africa’s most popular curries. 


doro wat

Doro wat, classic Ethiopian chicken stew can be made mild or spicy.

What is doro wat?

Although often referred to as a chicken stew, a ‘wat’ is prepared differently to the stews in other countries.

First the onion, a lot of them, are slowly cooked in a pot with no oil until the liquid has dissolved and the onions are soft and caramelised.  They break down and thicken the curry. 

So what we have here is a doro (chicken) wat stew. 

The preparation of a classic doro wat is long and time consuming

Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you go to all the work involved in this amazing curry in Ethiopia.

Traditionally, a live chicken is purchased, killed, plucked and cleaned. The bird is then divided into 12 pieces which represent the 12 apostles. 

These 12 pieces of meat are then thoroughly cleaned in a large bowl of water and lemon juice. In this doro wat recipe, I did clean the chicken in the traditional way but probably not as well. I also missed out purchasing and preparing a live chicken. 

If you’re short of time, you might want to choose another recipe. This recipe will still take a good two hours to make and it does involve a lot of hands on work. You will be glad you did it though. 

What other things are important in this recipe?

Three special ingredients are used to make a doro wat and many other Ethiopian dishes. Both can be purchased online but you will get better results if you make these fresh.

Berbere spice blend: This is a delicious curry powder that can easily be made at home. It can be quite spicy to some so add it in small amounts if you’re concerned about your doro wat being too spicy. I have a recipe for you here. 

Mekelesha: A spice blend that is similar to many garam masalas out there. In fact, I usually just use my own garam masala and add a little nutmeg to it.This is a blend of cardamom seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and nutmeg. 

Niter kebbeh: Homemade spiced ghee. It is usually made with butter that is then cooked over a low heat to separate the solids and become clarified butter. I usually use ghee to save time.

My tips…

  • If you have a food processor, I recommend using it to chop all those onions. It will save you a lot of time. 
  • You can cook the hard boiled eggs a couple of days in advance if more convenient. 
  • Watch those onions! They can easily burn if you aren’t careful. Be sure to stir regularly and add a drop of water to the pan if the onions are sticking. 

Step by step…


Washing chicken

Wash the chicken in several changed of water until the water runs almost clear.

Soaking chicken in water and lemon juice

Soak the cleaned chicken in fresh water with the lemon juice. This can sit while you are preparing the rest of the curry.

Ingredient for doro wat

Before starting cooking, I recommend getting all of your ingredients ready.

Boiling eggs

Adding hard boiled eggs to the doro wat is optional. If doing, bring some water to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Then transfer to cold water and set aside.

Dry frying onions

When ready to cook the onions, heat the same pot over medium heat. Add the onions directly to the pot with no oil and fry for about 60 minutes.

Fried onions

After 60 minutes, the onions will have released most of their moisture and become soft.

Adding spices to onions

Add the berbere. I add about 8 generous tablespoons to mine. You might want to add it in small amounts until you know how you like it.

Cooking doro wat

Add the chicken and niter kebbeh and stir well to combine. Add about 500ml (2 cups) of water and cover to cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.

Simmering doro wat

As it cooks, you should taste it and add more berbere mix if you like.

Stew sauce

After 30 minutes, the chicken will be cooked through and the sauce will be thick. Add salt and garam masala or mekelesha to taste. 


If you like this doro wat recipe, you might like to try some of these too… 

Salt and pepper chicken
Beef bulgogi
Wild duck pho
Korean fried chicken
Chicken rendang

doro wat

So good!

doro wat with egg

Dig in!

Doro Wat

doro wat with egg
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes


  • 1 x 2.5kg (5 lb) skinned chicken, cut into 8 to 12 pieces
  • 3 lemons
  • 8 large red onions (approx. 1k/2lbs), finely chopped
  • 2 generous tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 3 to 8 tbsp berbera*
  • 50g (1/4 cup) niter kebbeh
  • 6 free range eggs, optional
  • mekelesha, to taste
  • Salt to taste


  1. Wash the chicken in several changes of water and then soak in about one liter of water. Squeeze in the lemon juice and rub it into the chicken. Allow to soak in the lemon water while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  2. Bring some water to a boil in a pot that is large enough to contain all of the ingredients. When boiling, add 6 eggs and cook for 10 minutes. Transfer the hard-boiled eggs to a bowl of cold water and leave for later. The eggs are optional and can be done a few days in advance if more convenient.
  3. Drain and wipe the pot dry and place it over a medium-low heat. Stir in the finely chopped onions and fry using no oil, stirring regularly for 60 minutes or until the onions are soft and lightly caramelised.
  4. Once your onions are really soft and literally falling apart, stir in the garlic and ginger paste and the niter kibbeh and fry for a further 30 seconds. Then add the chicken pieces and about 500ml (2 cups ) of water.
  5. Add the berbera and stir well to combine. I recommend adding about 3 tablespoons at first. You can always add more later to taste. Add the chicken and stir it into the soft onion mixture.
  6. Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. Then stir in the mekelesha and salt to taste. Add the hard-boiled eggs (if using) and heat them for about 5 minutes in the sauce to serve. Traditionally, doro wet is served with injera bread but it’s also good over rice or served with sour dough bread.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 199mgSodium: 270mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 13g

Did you like this recipe?

Please join me on Facebook where I share all my latest recipes and videos. Just click that Facebook icon on the left and let's get to know each other!

I hope you enjoy this doro wat recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 


Monday 15th of August 2022

Can’t I use goat as an alternative to the chicken

Dan Toombs

Monday 15th of August 2022

Yes, I don't see why not. Dan

Skip to Recipe

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!