5 Ingredients or Fewer

Zighini (Spicy Beef Stew)

January 28, 2017
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A five-ingredient stew that takes like it has 500—it's that complex, that spiced, that satisfying. The secret is berbere, an Ethiopian spice you can find at most spice shops or online. It's made up of usually around 12 different spices, and though every blend is a little different, you'll always taste paprika, fenugreek, and dried chiles. Here's a recipe if you'd like to make your own: http://www.saveur.com/article...

While you could use beef chuck instead of the more-expensive, more-tender short ribs, one of the beauties of this stew is the softness of a bite, the beef nearly falling apart so that it becomes part of the sauce.

Serve with focaccia, as I had it in Rome at Trapizzino, or injera. —Ali Slagle

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound boneless short ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil, to coat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons berbere spice
  • 16 ounces canned tomato sauce
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, coat the bottom with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Brown the beef on two sides, in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Transfer the beef to a bowl, but don’t wash out the pot. Reduce the heat to medium.
  2. Add more olive oil if you don’t have much fat in the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, scraping up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the berbere, give it a stir, and let cook until fragrant, just a minute.
  3. Stir in the meat and its collected juices, the tomato sauce, a pinch of salt, and 2 cups of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, slide the covered pot into the oven and cook until the meat is tender and the stew is thick, about 1 1/2 hours.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Angie
  • Peggy Griswold
    Peggy Griswold
  • Simran
  • Steven Camp
    Steven Camp

5 Reviews

Simran January 23, 2019
Made this in the slow cooker and it turned out fab! Adjusted the recipe, dropping the stock altogether ( given a slow cooker doesn't need as much liquid), and per another reviewer's suggestion reduced the Berbere to 2 tbsps. Turned out spicy, flavourful and meltingly tender
Steven C. April 29, 2018
This has been one of the best, and easist, recipes we've come across in awhile. Our kitchen smells so good while this is cooking. This pairs well with any bread.
Angie September 8, 2017
This has become a favorite in my household. I tone down the amount of berbere a little bit (try half the amount listed at first and see how you do with that. If you want more, you can always add more during the last hour of cooking).
I put forkfuls of this on flatbread pizza crust with dollops of goat cheese and olive oil, baked for 10 minutes, and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then I sliced the flatbread into pieces and topped them all with baby arugula and ribboned mint. Drizzle some more olive oil on top and sprinkle moderately with kosher salt. It was awesome!
Peggy G. March 24, 2017

OCTOBER 15, 2012


Todd Coleman
In Ethiopia, no holiday meal is complete without Doro Wat, a long-stewed dish of chicken flavored with chile, garlic, berbere, cardamom, and ginger, served with boiled eggs.
See the recipe for Doro Wat »

Todd Coleman
In Ethiopia, no holiday meal is complete without Doro Wat, a long-stewed dish of chicken flavored with chile, garlic, berbere, cardamom, and ginger, served with boiled eggs.
See the recipe for Doro Wat »

Todd Coleman
In Ethiopia, no holiday meal is complete without Doro Wat, a long-stewed dish of chicken flavored with chile, garlic, berbere, cardamom, and ginger, served with boiled eggs.
See the recipe for Doro Wat »
I was taught to cook doro wot, the long-cooking Ethiopian braised chicken dish, by a friend in Addis Ababa. First, we sweated onions in nit'r qibe (spiced butter) for nearly an hour. Then we added the chicken thighs and legs, the fantastic Berbere spices (a vibrant blend including chile, garlic, and ginger), and white meat to the pot, and waited some more. The stock went in last, and while that simmered, we boiled and peeled eggs, adding them just before serving. Now, when my wife's sisters come to town, the first thing we do together is prepare doro wot, and that's probably my favorite occasion on which to make this dish. It gives us plenty of time to catch up. —Marcus Samuelsson, author of Yes, Chef (Random House, 2012)
4 tbsp. Ethiopian spiced butter (called nit'r qibe), ghee, or melted butter
2 1⁄2 tbsp. minced ginger
5 small red onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. Ethiopian spice mix (called Berbere)
1 plum tomato, chopped
3⁄4 tsp. ground cardamom
8 chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 hard-boiled eggs
Heat spiced butter in a 6-qt. saucepan over low heat. Add ginger, onions, and garlic; cook, stirring, until soft, about 30 minutes. Add spice mixture and tomato; cook, stirring, until reduced and darkened, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups of water, cardamom, and chicken, season with salt and pepper; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until chicken is done, about 1 hour. Transfer chicken to a plate; cook sauce until reduced, about 15 minutes. Add eggs and warm. Pour reduced sauce over chicken. Serve with rice or flatbread.
Peggy G. March 24, 2017
Berbere Spice Blend Recipe
Berbere is the most essential spice blend used in Ethiopian cuisine. It’s a great addition to help spice up any ordinary dish and take it to the extraordinary!

Click here to read more about it and see a video on how to use it.

Photo: liz t williams


Servings: Makes about 3/4 cup

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 5 mins

Total time: 15 mins


2 tsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. fenugreek seeds

1⁄2 tsp. black peppercorns

1⁄4 tsp. whole allspice

6 white cardamom pods

4 whole cloves

1⁄2 cup dried onion flakes

5 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed, seeded,

and broken into small pieces

3 tbsp. paprika

2 tsp. kosher salt

1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger

1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon


Photo: liz t williams

1. In a small skillet, combine coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice, cardamom pods, and cloves. Toast spices over medium heat, swirling skillet constantly, until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
2. Let cool slightly; transfer to a spice grinder along with onion flakes and grind until fine. Add chilies, and grind with the other spices until fine.
3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in paprika, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.