Shiro Wat is a type of Ethiopian stew made from chickpea flour, onions, tomato, and spices. It is a kind of wat, a key dish in Ethiopian cuisine, and has the added bonus of being vegetarian and gluten-free. It is typically eaten as the main dish of a lunch or evening meal and is served with vegetable dishes and injera.
In Ethiopian cuisine, wats are similar to a stew or curry and have many variations in their recipes. Many are spicy, including Shiro Wat, though this spice is adjustable– simply add or take away the berbere powder. Shiro Wat is mainly notable for its use of Shiro powder, a combination of chickpea flour and warm spices. The chickpea flour gives this dish a healthy serving of protein as well as makes it an inexpensive meal, as it does not call for meat.
When made correctly, Shiro Wat is smooth, spreadable, and has a nutty flavor from the chickpeas. The consistency can be adjusted to preference, but making it too runny will transform the dish from Shiro Wat into Shiro Fesses, with fesses meaning “runny.”
Origin & Cultural Significance
Wats make up a significant part of Ethiopian cuisine. Many will use meat such as chicken, lamb, or beef as their main ingredients. However, this is not always the case, as in Shiro Wat’s usage of chickpeas as a protein source.
Shiro Wat is one of many vegetarian dishes in Ethiopian cuisine, a necessity due to the religious makeup of the country. A large portion of the country’s population is Orthodox Christians who follow periods of fasting throughout the year. During these fasts, practitioners will abstain from eating meat, making a dish such as Shiro Wat perfect for their needs.
For the shiro powder
- Chickpea flour - ¾ cup
- Berbere powder - 1 tbsp
- Cumin - 1 tsp
- Garlic powder - 1 tsp
- Salt - 1 tsp
- Cardamom - 1 tsp (optional)
For the shiro wat
- Onions, medium - 2
- Tomato paste- 1 tbsp
- Garlic, minced - 1 tsp
- Olive oil - ½ cup
- Water - 2 cups
- If you cannot find Shiro powder at a nearby grocery store, begin by preparing your Shiro powder. Simply combine all ingredients and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet and dry roast chickpea flour, berbere, cumin, garlic powder, and salt for 2 minutes.
- To prepare the wat: Heat ½ cup of oil in a large pan and cook diced onions. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, just until aromatic and slightly translucent.
- Once aromatic, add your tomato paste and minced garlic and quickly sautee, only about 30 seconds.
- Now add your Shiro powder little by little, making sure to stir briskly with a spoon. Make sure that the powder is mixed in well before adding your 2 cups of water.
- Bring the mixture to a medium bubble, until small bubbles begin to form, and then reduce heat to medium-low.
- Let the mixture simmer for 10-20 minutes, depending on your desired consistency. Stir every few minutes.
- Once it has reached your desired consistency or the oil has begun to rise to the top, it is ready to serve. Serve alongside a salad or vegetables and injera or rice!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 341Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 743mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 5g