Sunday, September 26, 2010

Doro Wat with Injera and Foodie common sense

IMG_9304 A real foodie throws common sense out the window in the name of food.

A normal person looks at the ingredient list for Doro Wat and says, “I think I’ll make something else.”

When I looked at the ingredient list  I realized I was going to need some teff flour for my injera. I said to myself, “Well, I do need to pick up some paprika anyway.” Did I mention I live an hour away from any teff flour?

Justifying a lot of trouble for food is what separates me from normal people. I’ve woken up early on Christmas Eve to drive an hour away in order to grab one of the few Japanese Christmas cakes available. I’ve spent hours on a Sunday skating around Brooklyn trying to find a place that sold fresh scallops for a recipe I was insistent on for dinner and I was devastated when we had to give up. A foodie friend and I have walked the streets of San Fran while she was 7 months pregnant on a food trek even though someone had stolen my luggage (we did miraculously get it back). And then 8 months later we strolled her baby and my pregnant belly around NYC for 5 days eating everything in sight. We even almost made her late for her plane because of some Momofuku pork buns IMG_7560 even though we hadn’t been hungry for days. Did I mention we left our older kids with other people so we could maximize our food appointments?

When I googled  (ha ha, but yes. I really did) “classic ethnic dishes” in preparation for round two of the Foodbuzz PFB, I was immediately attracted to Doro Wat, an Ethiopian stew. This was a cuisine I had never cooked, which was a plus. I’ve cooked classic dishes from most cuisines (whether they were well cooked or not, I’ll leave that for another time). The spice list read like a love poem. I knew I wanted my daughter to try it because I want her to be well-versed in foods of the world before she is five (even if she can't pronounce them). It had the added piece of the traditionally accompanying Injera, a flat sponge like pancake made with teff flour. You get to eat it with your hands. The Injera and the Doro Wat seemed somewhat complicated, with many elements I’d never tried before: fermented starter, clarified spice butter (Niter Kibbeh), and a spice blend (Berbere). Bottom line: I knew this was going to take a long time.

I was hooked.

I spent several hours just scanning recipes and trying to determine what the most traditional methods were. I was surprised by the amount of variation from one recipe to the next, even if there were some basic similarities. Some recipes had no fenugreek while others insisted that while other spices could be left out, fenugreek was a requirement.

I love the chase. I blatantly ignored my long to-do list for the day and inconvenienced my family to run to town. I also hate driving. Okay, so at least I have views like this during my 1 hour each way drive. Should I really be complaining?IMG_9258 To buy the teff flour I went to a store I’d never heard of before: “The Source” which is in Kailua, and boasts the label of being the only certified organic store in Hawaii. The store was only about the size of my apartment but I still got lost in the oils section, even though I had told myself I would run in and out and only put 20 minutes on the meter. It was flashing “expired” like an accusatory finger when I returned. I bought teff grain (and other things I couldn’t resist) from a woman who offered religious and health advice to her regular customers, and even reached out and massaged the shoulders of one woman who was seeking help with some sort of spiritual balance that was affecting her physical ailments.
I spent the whole next day making my injera and doro wat. There was a lot of baby holding and feeding and paying an iota of attention to my 4 year old in between stirrings, but basically I dedicated myself to this food. Which is exactly what is so cool about making a new and complicated food. Teff grain is so interesting. It is very rich in iron and has no gluten. It smells like a mix between molasses and black tea with a hint of sour. I ground it up into a flour in my vitamix (!!! I’d never done that before and I was so impressed. I guess that’s why they cost $$$).

Even though I spent hours looking at recipes, I basically ended up using the first one I found on google. I guess google is smarter than me. The only thing I changed, really, was the amount of berbere spice I used in the stew. I upped it to 2 Tablespoons, but I think this is because I did a high ratio of paprika to red pepper, since I knew my daughter was eating it. I still made it a little spicy.
IMG_9322 The house smelled like incense and the stew became a rich and complex sauce over the course of the cooking. It’s amazing how almost the same spices added in three different forms (spice mix, spice butter, and straight in the stew) seem to change the result each time. I just read an essay about the shift in value that spices have endured and at one point in history, my stew would have been worth a king’s ransom, I’m sure. The chicken melted into the stew and the whole mix was tangy and earthy at the same time.

The injera was nutty and had a distinct flavor that melded perfectly with the stew. Since you put it down on the plate and then pour the stew over it, the bread gets soaked with flavor. You use pieces of the bread to grab up the stew and supposedly you can do this and keep your hands clean but I wasn’t too successful. IMG_9313 My daughter ate the boiled eggs and the bread, plain. She was suspicious of the red color but declared what she ate to be good. I was very happy. My many many hours of cooking and planning were totally worth the 20 minutes it took us to eat. And now I have some spice butter and berbere in my kitchen waiting for me so I can make a faster batch next time. IMG_9302 You can find the recipe for the doro wat (and accompanying links for berbere and niter kibbeh) HERE.
I had to play with the recipe for the injera a bit, but at least I used teff flour (which some recipes substituted with millet, which is not even close to the same thing). I say “quick” but as you can see you’ll need to start this quite a bit ahead of time. It’s not labor intensive.
“Quick” Injera makes about 5 breads
  • 1/4 C quick sourdough starter (see recipe following)
  • 1 3/4 C warm water
  • 1 3/4 C teff flour
  • 1/4 t salt
Mix the sourdough starter with warm water and stir, stir, stir to kind of melt the dough into the water. I used my hands. Add the teff flour and stir until you get a soupy blend. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temp (about 70 degrees or so) for 5-6 hours. You should see some bubbling at the top. Then stir in the salt.
Heat a 10 inch saute pan to medium heat. Oil the pan lightly and put about 3/4 C of batter into the pan. Immediately turn and swivel the pan around as if making a crepe to cover the bottom of the pan with the batter. Cover the pan with a lid and let sit for a few minutes, until the top of the bread looks dry and has a few bubbles and darkens. Lift it out and set it aside (do not flip over and cook, only cook one side).
Quick Sourdough Starter (from the Joy of Cooking)
You’ll only need 1/4 C of this starter, so you can use the rest for a loaf of bread later.
  • 2 T lukewarm water
  • 1/8 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 C room temp water
  • 2 C bread flour
  1. Mix 2 T water and yeast in a large bowl until the yeast is dissolved (about 5 minutes). Stir the 3/4 C water and bread flour into yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until the dough is smooth and firm. Place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp for 6-8 hours or until tripled in volume. Punch down and use immediately or return to bowl, cover, and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.


Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

I can not believe you made this you crazy person. Last night I seriously stayed up planning our 2011 food travel. I need to go to reunion in May in MA but that's not really super fun as far as food is concerned. We could always go back to NY and eat at the other side of town. Let's seriously start planning. This time I'll leave Maria and you bring Moze. I can't wait.

Mariko said...


sophia said...

lol, you sound like me. You are SUCH a foodie, and I love you for that. Best of luck! I'll bet you'll hop onto the 3rd round like the breeze.

Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

I just voted for you!

Marija said...

Voted :) Amazing entry! Good luck!

stephchows said...

You made one of my favorite things to order out! great job making it at home! what an adventure! voted :) I made jewish bagels for my entry, too fun!

Brooke Guthrie said...

Looks pretty authentic. I've had Ethiopian at restaurants and my friend Kathy makes it at home. I love your spice swirl. I grew up in Mililani and now live in Olympia, WA. I made pho for my PFB post :) I enjoyed reading yours. Good luck.

Heather said...

Congrats on a beautiful looking Doro Wat and Injera! I've done this myself (, I definitely know how much work it is! It's so rewarding and delicious that I would do it again in a heart beat. :)

Gina Ruiz said...

What a beautiful post. Sounds like it was delicious. You have my vote. Good luck!

Unknown said...

I was hoping someone would make injera, yours looks delicious. Cheers to going way out of your way for ingredients! You've got our vote.

Lick My Spoon

riceandwheat said...

Us Doro Wat-makers have to band together, right? So get ready to receive another vote! I also love your journey to find all the ingredients for the dish... that is one long long ingredient list for sure. But like you, I have another batch calling my name since I also have leftover berbere and niter kibbeh.

FOODalogue said...

Fun entry. I'm voting for you.

Cate said...

I am SO impressed! I've made injera once before but I just used buckwheat flour because I had no idea where to find teff. Love this post!

Stay-At-Home-Chef said...

Loved your post! Oh and who wouldn't miss their plane for a Momofuku pork bun :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for your kind comments on my blog. I must say your efforts to make this Ethiopian dish requires some kind of standing ovation! I know what you meant about baby holding in between cooking, I did that too and cleaned the whole house in the process.. ;-). Good luck in this round, I'm voting for you!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Looks delicious. Great pics as always. I voted for you!

Good luck! =)

You can check out my PFB post at :

notyet100 said...

looks delicious,.

Robbie said...

you are amazing!

Anna said...

I have seen so many people use teff flour that I think I have to give it a try now. Your dish looks fabulous and I love the Ethiopian sponge bread. You definitely get my vote :D

If you like, stop by and check out my post too:

Judy said...

Lucky you - all those different kinds of foods (ingredients) all SO close to you!

My closest grocer was 4 1/2 miles away - that was before the tornado took it this spring! Now it's 25 miles to the grocer. No running out on a whim for me - but I love to hear about you getting to do that!

Queen of Cuisine said...

This looks insane!! Good job! Oh, and Damaris- there's great food in MA!!

You have my vote.


Amelia PS said...

i love that you dedicate your day to the food! I do that myself sometimes: it is so rewarding.
I voted you (see my post here:

Shelly Borrell said...

I love the way the spices are swirled and photographed. It looks so artistic -- I can't stop staring at it :) Great job on all!

Shelly, Nibbles of Tidbits

Charmaine @ Speakeasy Kitchen said...

Ok. I'm inspired. I love doro wot but it's just not the same without the injera. If you can get teff in Hawaii, I should be able to find it in Colorado. Great post -- glad you ventured out to find the teff. You've inspired me to do the same!

Mariko said...

I love how PFB is helping us all get to know each other! Thanks for your comments and helping me get to your sites. My google reader is now ridiculously full. :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post! I love this: "The spice list read like a love story." I want to eat at your house, but you live far away. I will settle for voting for you:) Best of luck in making it to Round 3!

The Cheap Gourmet said...

What a fabulous entry and food selection. You did an amazing job on this and have my vote! I wish you the best of luck as you proceed through the PFB challenge!

Daily Spud said...

Fabulous! I so understand your willingness to pursue certain ingredients. I also love the fact that you want your daughter to be well-versed in foods of the world before she is five. With you as her mother, I have no doubt that she will be! Best of luck in the competition, you'll have a vote from me :)

kelly said...

Wow -- you went all out. I'm not sure I can pronounce most of what you made, although I have heard of doro wat before. Best to you -- good luck! You've got my vote!

Gabrielle @ i.gourmet said...

This is truly a wonderful entry, good luck with the challenges!

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