Okay, the easy joke’s out of the way. Doro wat is one of the most popular dishes in Ethiopia, and exemplifies all aspects of the cuisine that keep me coming back to Malasaña’s own Nuria. I tend towards restaurants that fix foods I can’t make nearly as well myself, and the spreads of saucy veg, egg, and meats ladled across spongy, slightly sour injera has always been a special treat out on the town. The particular mix of spices in each dish mesh to produce flavors wholly distinct from other schools of cooking with which I am more familiar (Thai, French, Mexican, Arabic…), and I’ve somehow always categorized them as Beyond My Kitchen Expertise.
This stereotypical shot of a kaleidoscope amalgamation of spices should be a clear enough indication: no more unfounded excuses. Casu Marzu‘s inspired me again, this time with an image of scored egg submerged in tomato paste spiked with spice. I need it immediately. I spend the morning scouring the musty, earthy shops of Lavapiés for berbere, the complex Ethiopian spice mixture based primarily on heaps of ground chile. A recurring pattern of blank shopkeeper looks send me back to the original recipe, whereupon I discover that I have nearly all the recommended spices at hand. Missing are fenugreek and allspice, which gives me the ideal excuse to poke my head in a corner of Madrid that’s been on my list for well over a year.
One jaunt through southern Malasaña later, and Spicy Yuli becomes my favorite store in the city. Spices by weight! Whole and ground! Curry mixes, galangal, ground cardamom, kaffir lime leaves, Sichuan pepper! This last one I pick up for good measure, along with the afore-sought allspice and fenugreek. Upon my proclaimed affinity for the spicy, the shopkeep gifts me a tiny packet of dry harissa, which she recommends I infuse with oil and enjoy with bread and olives. Mm-hmm.
The berbere comes together as a spectacularly red mountain of powder, insidiously coating the insides of my nostrils with hot paprika more than once. From here the prep could not be simpler, and my slight modifications to the original write-up add a splash of color in a scarlet sea.
One taste destroys me. It’s hot and earthy in a way that links me to my memories of Ethiopian eats at restaurants, yet far better. Fresher, more complicated. I find myself wanting to eat enormous amounts of the tomato-onion blend, to gobble fiery, saucy eggs until I burst. I content myself with reserving leftovers, but only just.
A small warning: I found myself absurdly hyped up after munching this around 10.30 PM, utterly unable to get any shut-eye until well into the wee hours of the morning. This morning I read up on hot paprika, and, in addition to being a top-notch source of vitamin C, it appears to be a stimulant. Doro wat may be best as afternoon food, or, alternatively, as late-night rocket fuel for long lasting groovy moves.
adapted from As Warm as a July Tomato
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup berbere
1 can tomato paste
1 can whole tomatoes
1 whole small chicken, skinned, de-boned, and divided
hard boiled eggs, one per person
several healthy handfuls spinach
berbere (makes 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/4 cup ground chili
1/4 cup hot paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Over low heat, sauteé the onion and garlic in the butter until onion turns translucent around the edges. Add in berbere and toss to coat.
2. Add tomato paste and mix well. Add can of tomatoes, dividing them with your spatula.
3. Add chicken pieces to pan plus some water until the mixture is semi-liquid; bring to a simmer and let cook about 20 minutes. Add more water along the way if mixture looks dry. You’re aiming for a thick stew-like consistency here.
4. Meanwhile, boil the eggs (one per person). Cool them under cold running water, peel, and score with a knife. Settle them in the pan and let cook with the rest for a minute.
5. Add spinach and mix. Let cook until wilted. Serve, with rice, couscous, or bread if you wish.