Here’s a vegetarian stew that will give you an authentic taste of Ethiopian cuisine. Duba Wat (or Spicy Pumpkin Stew) is packed with flavor in every bite — and ready in less than an hour!
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If you’ve been to any Ethiopian restaurant, Duba Wat is one of those dishes that they normally serve on top of a huge flatbread; and you tear pieces of the bread to scoop a portion of each dish.
The beauty of preparing this at home is that you can serve (and eat) as much of it as you can.
I stopped trying to serve it as a side dish because it is so good that we keep coming back to it.
So nowadays, I serve it as a main, with some flatbread on the side.
- Oil – use vegetable oil, not olive oil; it has neutral (to no taste at all) compared to olive oil.
- Onions – Don’t cut back on it. I know it’s painful chopping all of them, but it is one of the base flavors in this vegetable stew.
- Pumpkin – or any other kind of squash is excellent for this dish.
- Cardamom – you can use powder, of course. But I strongly suggest buying the seeds instead and ground it yourself; the aroma and flavor will be twice as intense.
- Berbere – a spice blend that is one of the staples in any Ethiopian kitchen; it’s intense, it’s spicy, and it will not make you stop eating. 🙂
Start by heating the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Once the oil is ready, add garlic and onions (photo 1).
Cook until the onions are soft, then add the spices: berbere and ground cardamom (photo 2).
Cook and stir for about five minutes, let the spices combine with the onions evenly. Add a bit of water to avoid anything sticking at the bottom of the pan (photo 3).
Add chopped pumpkin (photo 4).
Mix to combine pumpkin with the onions and spices.
Pour enough water to cover only a quarter of the pumpkin in the pan (photo 5).
Add salt, then cover with a lid and bring to a boil (photo 6).
Adjust the heat to medium-low and simmer until the pumpkin is cooked; mix occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Take the pan off the heat and transfer it into bowls.
- Ground the cardamom seeds using a mortar and pestle, coffee/spice grinder, or that food grinder that normally comes with immersion hand blenders.
- Do not rush the cooking of the onions; let them sweat. They need to be soft when you add the spices, so all their flavors would merge — the base for this spicy pumpkin stew.
- While generally chopping the pumpkins in equal size, there is a handful that I chop a bit smaller. These are the ones that get cooked quicker, giving me that softer, mushier feel while still having perfectly cooked ones.
If this is not how you want the texture to be, then make sure you chop all in the same size, so they all cook at the same time.
- Do not put too much water in one go. The rule of thumb is only up to a quarter of the chopped pumpkin in the pan. If you feel you need more, then add a bit later while adjusting the seasoning.
Remember that it’s a stew, not a soup. Of course, you can keep it uncovered during the last part of the cooking if there’s too much water. But this would potentially result in overcooked pumpkin.
- CAN I USE BROTH OR STOCK INSTEAD OF PLAIN WATER?
You can, but I would not recommend it.
The onion and the spices should be the base flavors in this pumpkin stew, that’s why everything needs to taste neutral — vegetable oil and water.
- WHAT DO I SERVE WITH IT?
Its traditionally serve with ‘injera,’ otherwise known as Ethiopian flatbread, and it’s nothing like any other flatbread because they use a different type of flour.
While I am still trying to perfect how to make it, we just have to content ourselves with pairing this spicy pumpkin stew with Piadina (Italian flatbread) instead.
Hej c’mon on, don’t judge — I would gladly buy them if I can find them here in Stockholm. 😀
So, what do you think? Try preparing it this week, and let me know what you think in the comment section below!
If you want more ‘comfort’ side dishes with no meat, then you might like these posts:
- Roasted Fennel with Parmesan & Cream
- Gnocchi Alla Romana (Semolina Gnocchi)
- Swedish Potatoes with Dill Cream Sauce
Ethiopian Spicy Pumpkin Stew (Duba Wat)
- Pyrex Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Rubber Spatula
- 3 to 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 tsp berbere spice blend
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 kg pumpkin or squash (about 2 lbs), peeled, seeded, and chopped
- salt, to season
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Pour the oil into the skillet.
- Once the oil is ready, add garlic and onions, and cook until they turned soft.
- Add the berbere spice and ground cardamom and mix.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, letting everything combine evenly. If you think it's sticking to the pan, add a bit of water.
- Add chopped pumpkin and mix.
- Pour enough water to cover only a quarter of the pumpkin in the pan. You can add more later if you think it needs more.
- Add salt, then cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Adjust the heat to medium-low and continue simmering until it's cooked; mix occasionally. (Do not forget to taste and adjust the seasoning during this time).
- Take the pan off the heat and transfer it into bowls.
- I strongly suggest you use cardamom seeds, and ground them yourself, instead of using cardamom powder. There is a noticeable difference in aroma and flavor between the two types.
- Make sure the onions are already soft when you add the spices — this is needed so all their flavors would merge, which is the base for this pumpkin stew.
- When chopping the pumpkin, chop a handful of them into smaller bits. These are the ones that get cooked quicker, giving the dish that softer, mushier feel while still having perfectly cooked ones.
- Watch how much water you add at first. The rule of thumb is only up to a quarter of the chopped pumpkin in the pan. If you feel you need more, then add a bit later while adjusting the seasoning.