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  • Writer's pictureNicky, Digital Researcher, Africa Analyst

Key wat - Ethiopian spicy beef stew

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Key wat, a favorite in most Ethiopian homes, is a delicious and spicy beef stew made with diced beef, tomato paste, vegetable oil, onions, garlic, sugar, stock cubes, salt, pepper, and a special spice mix known as Berbere seasoning.

You can easily create your own Berbere seasoning by blending together spices such as nutmeg, fenugreek, tumeric, cumin, gloves, coriander, garlic, etc.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 90 minutes

Servings: 6


  • 1 lb stew beef, cut into 1 inch cubes

  • 1 tsp salt

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, separated

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 2 tsp minced garlic

  • 1 tbsp Berbere spice (less if you’re sensitive to spice)

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • ½ tsp sugar

  • 2 cups beef stock (or 2 cups water and a beef bullion)

Cooking Steps

  1. For the stewed beef, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.

  2. Season the beef with the salt and pepper. Brown the beef in batches in the dutch oven, removing to a plate to catch its juices.

  3. Without cleaning the dutch oven, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

  4. Add the onions and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

  5. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

  6. Add the tomato paste, berbere seasoning, and sugar to the onions and garlic. Cook until a thick paste forms, about 3 minutes.

  7. Add the beef stock and beef and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to simmer.

  8. Simmer the beef for at least an hour, up to two.

  9. Remove the beef from the cooking liquid and shred it by pulling the chunks apart with two forks. Add the beef back to the stock mixture and simmer for another 15 minutes.

  10. Serve with injera or couscous.

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