doro wat – ethiopian chicken stew

by Brittney

This spicy ethiopian chicken stew or doro wat is the comfort food of my dreams. Made by sauteing onions in a deliciously fragrant clarified butter (niter kibbeh) and then simmering the chicken to perfection in a rich sauce spiced with berbere, this doro wat is an unforgettable meal!

The first time I tried Ethiopian food was on a work trip to DC and it was love at first bite! From the intensely rich flavors and spices to the communal platter designed for sharing, everything about Ethiopian food seems warm and inviting! So today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite dishes — doro wat — an incredibly savory stew with tender, juicy chicken.

chicken stew with onions

niter kibbeh | ethiopian spiced clarified butter

While I’ve tried making Ethiopian food at home too many times to count, my dishes never turned out the way I wanted until I started making my own niter kibbeh or spiced clarified butter. You can make a batch in less than an hour and it keeps in the refrigerator for about two months. If you’re not ready to invest that time, you can also buy niter kibbeh online. I’ve never tried the store bought version, but I definitely think it would be better than using other substitutes!

While niter kibbeh is generally made by infusing butter with certain fresh herbs and spices, my version relies heavily on ground spices and omits a few traditional spices that are harder to find here. But don’t worry, this clarified butter is still packed with flavor and I am so unbelievably happy with the result that I’ve been using it for almost everything!

To back up a bit, clarified butter is just butterfat separated from the milk solids and water. The butterfat has a higher smoke point, which makes it ideal for cooking at higher temperatures without burning. The niter kibbeh is made simply by melting the butter in a saucepan (along with all of the aromatics) until a foamy layer forms at the top. You’ll then just need to pour the mixture through a cheesecloth to filter out the foam and spices. Easy!

chicken stew on a plate with hard boiled egg

doro wat and berbere

Now that our niter kibbeh is ready to go, let’s move on to the chicken stew! A lot of the flavor for this stew comes from the onions sauteed in the spiced clarified butter, but you will need one other special ingredient to get the characteristic spiciness — berbere! Berbere is actually a blend of spices and while you can make one yourself, I used this blend of berbere and our stew was phenomenal!

The chicken needs to simmer in the spicy onion mixture for about an hour. I also add a few cups of chicken broth to the pot, but you may need more or less depending on how many onions you use and how much liquid they release. When your chicken is almost done, I like to toss one hard boiled egg per person into the pan, but that’s completely optional!

doro wat with niter kibbeh

what to serve with doro wat

Traditionally, doro wat is served with injera — a spongy pancake-like fermented bread made with teff flour — which is used to scoop up the delicious stew. Unfortunately, I rarely have access to injera (although you definitely can make your own!), so we generally eat our doro wat with all types of flatbreads and sometimes with rice!

close up of chicken stew with egg

doro wat | ethiopian chicken stew

serves: 4 prep time: cook time:
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


doro wat (chicken stew)
  • niter kibbeh 4 tbsp (55 g)
  • (use the recipe below to make your own spiced clarified butter)
  • onion 3-4 medium
  • ginger 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • garlic 3 cloves
  • berbere 2 tbsp
  • tomato paste 1 tbsp
  • chicken broth 2 c (480 ml)
  • chicken thighs 2 lbs (1 kg)
  • salt to taste
  • hard boiled eggs for serving
niter kibbeh (spiced clarified butter)
  • unsalted butter 1 lb (450 g)
  • cloves 4 whole
  • cinnamon stick 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • ground cardamom ½ tsp
  • ground turmeric ½ tsp
  • ground fenugreek ½ tsp
  • ground nutmeg ¼ tsp
  • oregano ½ tsp
  • ginger 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • garlic 3 cloves
  • onion (minced) 3 tbsp


doro wat (chicken stew)
  1. Finely dice the onions and mince the ginger and garlic.
  2. Melt the niter kibbeh in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another two minutes.
  4. Add the the berbere, tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in the chicken broth and add the chicken. Bring the sauce to a slight boil, reduce and cover. Cook for about an hour or until the chicken is cooked through. If the sauce reduces too much, you can add additional chicken broth or water.
  6. During the last ten minutes of cooking, peel the hard boiled eggs and add them to the pot.
  7. Season with salt to taste.
niter kibbeh (spiced clarified butter)
  1. Toast the cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek, cardamom and nutmeg in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Make sure not to burn the spices or they'll give the final product an unpleasant taste! Set aside.
  2. Finely mince the garlic, ginger and onion.
  3. Cut the butter into pieces and place in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until the butter has melted. Do not let the butter brown - lower the heat if necessary!
  4. Add in all of the other ingredients and cook over low heat for at least half an hour, swirling the pan occasionally. You have to be very careful not to burn the butter - you won't be able to save your niter kibbeh if this happens!
  5. Strain the butter through a cheesecloth into a jar. You may need to repeat this process several times to remove any trace of the spices.
  6. Store the niter kibbeh in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Did You Make This Recipe?
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