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Almaz’s Ethiopian Doro Wat (Chicken Curry) inspired by Cutting for Stone

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Almaz’s Ethiopian Doro Wat (Chicken Curry) inspired by Cutting for Stone

Almaz’s Ethiopian Doro Wat (Chicken Curry) inspired by <i>Cutting for Stone</i>
Nina Gallant
Provided by:
total prep
Recipe and excerpt courtesy of "The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors" by Judy Gelman & Vicki Levy Krupp, 2012. Published by Tarcher an imprint of Penguin.

Abraham Verghese writes: In "Cutting for Stone", Hema, a doctor at Missing, arrives in Ethiopia after a monthlong absence and sends Gebrew, the watchman at Missing, to a restaurant to bring back doro wat, which she has been craving. The stoic cook at Missing Hospital would have regularly made this dish and fed it to the twins. This Ethiopian curry is eaten with in-jera, the pancake-like bread. The key to making this dish is berbere, a spice mixture that includes chile peppers, pepper, ginger, cloves, coriander, allspice, rue berries, and ajwain. Berbere is a key ingredient for so many curries (wot) in Ethiopia.



  • In a deep skillet, heat oil. Then add onions, and lightly sauté until onions are soft. Add chicken pieces and garlic paste, and cook until the chicken is lightly browned. Add the berbere, stirring so that all pieces of the chicken are coated. Add tomato and stir again.
  • Pour in water, bring mixture to a boil, and add salt. Simmer over low heat until the meat is well cooked, approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces (or until juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh). (In Ethiopia, they say that the woman who loves her husband cooks it slowly so that each piece is tender and the gravy is thick.) You may add a pat of butter and/or hard-cooked eggs during the last five minutes of cooking, if desired.

  • NOTE: Berbere can be purchased online and at local specialty and gourmet food stores.