Doro Watt or Ethiopian Chicken by Sefanit Sirak-Kebede was featured in the People’s Cook Book – A Celebration of the Nation’s Life Through Food. I was fascinated by the introduction to the recipe and the steps involved in the preparation captured my imagination and interest. This recipe must have originated when communities sat around a common fire and cooked, designating various tasks to groups of women – just like one of my cookery labs 🙂 I could visualise a chattering group peeling and dicing a kilo of shallots with tears running down their faces from the vapours, another group plucking, skinning and jointing a chicken, and another carefully melting the butter with spices. This last one I omitted from the recipe as in India it will be sacrilegious to waste good spices and flavoured butter will not lend itself to other recipes. What intrigued me was the way in which onions were cooked, and when I tried it in my kitchen I found that the flavour was exquisite. The concept of adding 12 hard-boiled eggs to the curry to extend the dish is not new, but scoring the eggs to allow the gravy to seep in is sublime. By the way, Doro Watt means without Parson’s Nose, and that means without the tail end of the chicken. I guess parsons do come in for ridicule everywhere!
- 1 large Chicken, skinned and jointed
- 1 kg Red Onions (shallots), diced
- 2 T Ginger-Garlic paste
- 1 T Coriander powder
- 1 T Kashmiri Chilli powder
- 2 Lemons
- 12 hard-boiled Eggs
- 1 T Salt, or to taste
- ⅓ C Butter
- 1 T Vegetable Oil (if needed)
- Marinate the chicken with juice from the lemons for 30 minutes.
- In a large non-stick kadai or wok, place the onion and butter and heat gently.
- Add a little water to prevent sticking. You can cover it, but make sure it doesn’t burn.
- When a gravy-like consistency is reached (this may take 30 minutes), stir in the chilli powder and the ginger-garlic paste.
- Continue to cook on low heat, till it looks creamy.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the gravy.
- Stir in the coriander powder, marinade and the salt; mix well, bring to boil, lower heat immediately and simmer till the chicken is cooked.
- Shell the eggs, score around the eggs using a sharp knife, but do not separate the eggs into pieces.
- Add the eggs to the chicken mixture and gently coat the eggs with gravy.
- Serve with chapathi, paratha or fried rice.
- Stir the onion constantly to prevent burning. Do not fry to golden brown.
- If the butter is not sufficient (the onion begins to stick to the kadai), the vegetable oil could be added.
- I do not have Ethiopian chilli powder and instead used my favourite: Kashmiri Chilli Powder (because of its mild flavour and wonderful red colour). Therefore, despite its fiery appearance, the taste isn’t very spicy.
- The original recipe discarded the marinade, but I have included it as the dish tastes flat without it.
- Total preparation time is over 2 hours, primarily due to peeling and dicing of shallots which takes about an hour. I recommend doing the pre-preparation much ahead of the start of the cooking process. As cooking also goes for an hour, I do other tasks in parallel like preparing the fried rice or a salad.