Chicken and Lentil Casserole (Doro Wat)

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Chicken and Lentil Casserole (Doro Wat)In Washington, DC, we have an embarrassment of international dining riches. Many years ago, I went to an elaborate work dinner at one of the best Ethiopian joints in town. We had a wide array of colorful dishes served atop a huge and unique sourdough flatbread, of course all served communally. A small tear of bread and a pinch of this, another tear and a pinch of that. I became obsessed with a small tear of bread with this and that together. Where “doro wat,” or stewed chicken is traditionally a stand-alone dish, I favored it paired with some similarly flavored lentils. Here is an adaptation of my favorite bite.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp berbere or hot chile powder, divided
  • 1½ tsp salt, divided
  • 3 cups water, boiling
  • 2 large red onions, diced or minced
  • 0.33 cup nit’r kibe, clarified butter or unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 lb chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed
  • 2 limes, juiced
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a baking dish, combine lentils, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of berbere or chile powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 3 cups of boiling water. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and transfer the baking dish to the oven. Cook for 50-55 minutes, or until the lentils have absorbed the water.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, make the onion sauce. Place a skillet over medium heat and add the onions and 1 teaspoon of salt. Sauté the onions for 15-20 minutes or until the onions are very soft and have begun to caramelize. Add nit’r kibe or butter, tomato paste, garlic, ginger, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of berbere or chile powder to the skillet and continue to sauté for an additional 20 minutes, or until the onions have turned a deep reddish brown and begun to break down into a paste.
  4. Add wine to the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the wine reduces by more than half. Add broth and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the lentils from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Stir the lentils to ensure the spices are distributed, and create a flat layer. Smear half of the onion sauce atop the lentils. Place chicken thighs atop the onion sauce, and smear the top of the chicken evenly with the remainder of the onion sauce.
  6. Return the baking dish to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 50-55 minutes. Remove the doro wat from the oven and squeeze lime juice on top. Serve pieces of chicken and some lentils and be sure to include plenty of onion sauce. Traditionally, it is served with fresh injera (Ethiopian pancake) or rice.

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