Ethiopian Shiro Wat (Chickpea Sauce)

This week, we are moving on to sauce #4 of 6 for the Ethiopian Bayaynet! This one, unlike the last couple is a bit more on the spicy side. It gives a bit of a punch, so is it nicely balances with the more mild Ater Wat and Nej Gomen.

Shiro (also sometimes written as Shuro) Wat is made of ground chick peas (garbanzo beans)–it’s super healthy for you!

The market in my town in Ethiopia would typically sell a blend of chick pea flour and spices (including Berbere), so I had to be a little careful when making it. One time, I forgot that there was a fair amount of Berbere in my particular Shiro mix, so I added too much extra Berbere and nearly burned my tongue out of my mouth–it was so spicy!

Where you get your Shiro powder from and what your spice tolerance is, will dictate how much Berbere you add to this recipe. I only add 1 TBSP, and it still has a pretty good kick that makes me want to run to the fridge for some milk.

If your Shiro powder is already fairly spicy, you can just omit the additional Berbere. The most important thing is to make it in a way that you will enjoy it!

Ethiopian Shiro Wat (Chickpea Sauce)

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  • 8 oz Yellow Onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 3 TBSP Water
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 TBSP Garlic, minced (about 3 large cloves)
  • 1 TBSP Berberi
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 3 oz (about ½ a cup) Shiro Powder / Shuro Powder
  • 2 cups additional Water
  • ¼ tsp Mekelesha Spice Mix
  • 1 Jalapeño Pepper (optional) for garnishing


Dice the onions, and put them in a 2-quart pot.  Add 3 TBSP of water, and let the onions simmer on LOW heat for 30 minutes.  Stir it occasionally to make sure that the onions are not sticking. I recommend keeping the lid on to help keep the moisture inside the pan.

After the 30 minutes is up, add the salt, oil, garlic, Berbere and a 1/4 cup of water.  Stir it well so that there are no lumps from the Berbere.  Replace the lid and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

At this point, add the Shiro Powder, making sure to stir it really well—it will be a very thick paste.  Add your 2 cups of additional water, mixing it well so that there are no lumps.  Cook it for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently to avoid stickage.

Add a ¼ tsp of Mekelesha Spice Mix, and simmer for 5 final minutes.  

Remove the pot from the heat.  Shiro Wat is best with Injera, garnished with a chopped Jalapeño pepper. It can be served warm or cold.

I’ll go over making Injera in a few weeks so that we can create a full Bayaynet with all of the different sauces we’ve been making.  However, if you are making this sauce before we go over the Injera, I would recommend either finding a local Ethiopian restaurant that you could buy some freshly-made Injera from, or check out this awesome youtube video with a very detailed, step-by-step on creating your own at home.

This particular recipe yields just over 2 cups.

Amharic/English Translations for this Recipe:

  • Bayaynet = an assortment of sauces/sides adorning a round platter of Injera
  • Shiro = Chick Pea/Garbonzo Bean Flour
  • Wat = Sauce/Stew