This dorho sebhi recipe comes from Saba Alemayoh’s book Tekebash & Saba: Recipes from the Horn of Africa (£22, Murdoch Books).

Saba says: “Traditionally, a whole chicken is separated into pieces and served with 12 eggs. Why the eggs? I have asked this question of my mother and all the Tegaru I know. The answer has always been a flaky one at best – along the lines of, dorho sebhi has no charisma without the eggs. That’s the thing about Tegaru – the culture is passed from one generation to the next with minimal questions but precise implementation.”

This is a recipe that Saba shared as part of her guide to Ethiopian cuisine. Check it out to learn about the rich flavours of East Africa, including recipes for dilik (chilli paste) and salata dakwa (tomato salad).


  • sunflower oil or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 8 onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 200g dilik chilli paste (see recipe)
  • 8 extra-large skinless chicken drumsticks
  • 60g tesmi (see below)
  • 6 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
  • injera, cooked rice or flatbreads, to serve


  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 350g unsalted butter
  • ¼ red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric


  • STEP 1

    First, make the tesmi. Toast the fenugreek seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until they turn light brown. Grind the fenugreek and cardamom seeds in a blender for a few seconds until coarsely ground. Melt the butter in a frying pan over the lowest heat. Add all the tesmi ingredients and stir for 15-20 mins or until the onion and garlic turn brown. Remove from the heat and let the tesmi sit until it cools but doesn’t solidify. Strain into a dry container. The spiced butter will keep for a few months in the fridge.

  • STEP 2

    Fry the onions in a large, heavy-based stock pot over a low heat in just enough oil to stop them sticking. Once browned, add the garlic and stir, then add the dilik, stirring continuously. Add just a little water if it begins to stick. Simmer this silsi base for at least 20 mins – the longer you cook it the better the flavour develops – and it should turn a deep crimson.

  • STEP 3

    Add the chicken to the silsi, stir it through and add enough water to submerge the chicken completely. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 mins, then stir in the tesmi. Put on the lid and cook for 20 mins, stirring occasionally, to ensure the chicken is well coated and cooks evenly. The chicken is cooked when the meat starts to separate from the bones; at this point, add more salt to taste.

  • STEP 4

    Put the peeled eggs in a serving bowl and add the cooked chicken. Traditionally, the stew is eaten on a bed of injera (a traditional sour, spongy flatbread) but you can also serve it with rice or flatbreads.

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