By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
The "food appreciation" classes I teach in a private elementary school here in the District of Columbia are on a virtual world culinary tour and we've been looking forward to the day when we could taste our own spicy Ethiopian food with injera bread. That day has finally arrived.
This dish, Doro Wat, features chicken and hard-boiled egg in a traditional berbere sauce. Here in D.C., we have a large Ethiopian population and I knew some of the local stores sell injera, the spongy flat bread that is essential to an authentic Ethiopian meal. The bread is used instead of cutlery--to pick up the food.
I found a store just a short walk from my home. Besides the injera--seven pizza-size loaves of it stacked one atop the other, but you can get taller stacks--I also found a selection of spices. The berbere, bright red with chili powder, came in a two-cup container. But it did not have the same aroma as the berbere we made last week in class. When I asked the woman at the cash register what was in it--if it contained the cinnamon and cloves, for instance, that we had used in class--she shook her head. "No cinnamon," she said. "This is the berbere we make at home, according to tradition."
She said she didn't know exactly what was in it. So, if you don't have an Ethiopian store where you can purchase berbere, make the version we made in class last week.
I explained to the store clerk what I planned to do with my purchases and she asked if I wouldn't be needing butter. Sure, I said. I planned to use butter to cook our Doro Wat. What she meant, though, was the seasoned butter the store sells from its refrigerator case. We opened a one-cup container and the butter smelled of cardamom. Well, I would need some of that as well, I suppose. And obviously these are exactly the ingredients they use to make Doro Wat in the Ethiopian restaurant, because the dish we made tasted for all world like it had been made in an Ethiopian restaurant.
In a heavy skillet over moderate heat, melt 1/2 Ethiopian butter (or use plain butter and 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom). Add 2 medium onions, cut into small dice, and 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped. Cook until the onions are soft, about eight minutes. Add 2 tablespoons berbere spice, 1 cup diced tomatoes (or half a 14-ounce can), and 1.3 pounds chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces. (You could substitute boneless chicken thighs). Pour in 1/2 cup water and cook until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Add six hard-boiled eggs, peeled and lightly scored with a knife. Baste them with the sauce. Add more water if necessary to make a stew-like consistency.
Season dish with freshly ground black pepper. Ladle the stew over large slices of injera bread on plates. Alternately, you can place the injera on plates and present the stew in a family-size bowl so that people can serve themselves. Don't be afraid to use your hands.
The kids, by the way, were crazy for this dish.
10 months ago