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Eat this! Doro tibs wat, hot stuff from Ethiopia

An Ethiopian-style meal from Ethiopian Diamond, including doro tibs wat. (Photo ©2010 by Leah A. Zeldes).

 
An Ethiopian-style meal from Ethiopian Diamond, including doro tibs wat. (Photo by Leah A. Zeldes).

What it is: In this dish from Ethiopia, doro means chicken, tibs are sauteed meats and wat indicates a peppery stew. To make the dish, spices are first slowly stewed together to create niter kibbeh, a spice-infused clarified butter. Then breast of chicken is added and quickly cooked in the mixture.

Almaz Yigizaw

Almaz Yigizaw

Where it comes from: Ethiopia has historically been an important center of trade, linking Africa to the Arab world and thence to Europe and Asia. Thus its cuisine has many influences, including ginger from the Far East, chili peppers from Portugal, exotic spices from India.

What to do with it: In an Ethiopian-style meal, doro tibs wat would be served alongside a variety of stewed and sauteed meats and vegetables, atop injera, a large, spongy, sourdough flatbread made from a grain called teff. Diners tear off pieces of bread and use them to scoop up morsels of food. However, this simple preparation could just as well be served on its own, perhaps over rice, in a Western-style dinner.

Ethiopian Diamond’s doro tibs wat
Ethiopian spicy sauteed chicken
Chef Almaz Yigizaw

Traditionally, this dish would be made with clarified butter, but at Ethiopian Diamond in Edgewater and Rogers Park, Chef Almaz Yigizaw prefers to use vegetable oil.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 medium Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons mitmita (Ethiopian chili powder) or cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 fresh tomato, diced, or 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional, to reduce the spiciness)
1/2 pound chicken breast, cubed
Salt to taste

In a skillet over low heat, combine the oil, onion, garlic, ginger, chili powder, cumin and cardamom, and cook, stirring, for 30 minutes.

If you have a low tolerance for spice, add tomato. Then add the chicken and cook about 10 minutes, until the meat is cooked through. Finally, add salt to taste. 2 servings (as part of an Ethiopian meal). Recipe may be multiplied.
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