Doro Wat

Doro Wat

I love Ethiopian food, and probably eat it once every two weeks or so. It wasn’t soon after getting into Ethiopian that I thought about cooking it. My resolve got stronger once I went into Dukem’s market and saw they had injera bread and  berbere spice mixes for sale, which without I probably would be unable to cook Ethiopian. Making my own injera bread? I don’t think so.

So I settled on making Doro Wat, the national dish of Ethiopia, mostly because once I thought about my favorite dishes from Ethiopian restaurants they were vegetarian platters that involve 5 individual stews – which would probably take me days to cook. This, at a little over 4 hours, was more manageable. I divided the recipe by 3 so I wouldn’t have leftovers for weeks (it serves 12), got rid of the hard-boiled eggs (never really been a fan of random hard cooked eggs in dishes – salads, fried rice, etc) and substituted dry white wine for sweet wine because it’s what I had on hand.

My jumping off point to find Ethiopian recipes was here, it was merely a coincidence that the recipe I chose came from the Washington Post. The Doro Wat was pretty great, if not very pretty to look at (nor is much of Ethiopian food, when you’re poor you’re not really worrying about the presentation of your food). The berbere spice mix did a lot to make it taste authentically Ethiopian, and while the dish was spicy the sweetness of the onions cooking for 4 hours helped balance out the flavors. I ended up having to make my own nitir kibe, or spiced butter, because I couldn’t find any at Dukem, but that worked out fine. It was satisfying to make my own Ethiopian dish successfully, but with the over 4 hours I spent making it, I think I’ll be ordering takeout from Ethiopian restaurants more than I’ll be cooking the cuisine myself.

Etete, courtesy of Pedro Alcocer

Etete, courtesy of Pedro Alcocer

My first taste of Ethiopian food was at Etete. While I might be quite an eater now (and some may say a bit of a foodie) in college, not so much. I don’t know whether it was of necessity or by choice, but a typical dinner usually included pizza, spaghetti in marinara sauce or maybe a chicken stirfry. I’ve broadened my tastes since then, and when I moved to U street in 2007 I knew I needed to try Ethiopian. Reading that Etete had made it to the WaPo’s dining guide, I chose that as my first foray into the cuisine. It’s totally converted me as an Ethiopian food lover.

What I love is the versatility of the cuisine, how it can be perfect for a meat eater or a vegetarian. How filing it is, and how tasty it is, spicy but not overwhelmingly so. It works on a cold night or on a summer day. And it’s difficult to spend more than $30 on a dinner for two, mostly because the food is so filling.

After going to Etete I’ve tried other Ethiopian in my area (which can be known as little Ethiopia). I still like Etete the most. Maybe it’s because it is a bit sleeker than the other Ethiopian restaurants in the area, maybe it’s because I had a really nice first date there, but I also like the food the most.

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