This Ethiopian chicken and egg stew is really fragrant thanks to the heady mix of berbere spices and a long, slow cooking time. You can buy ready made berbere spice blends in some supermarkets, but I’d urge you to make your own if you can. It takes no time at all if you have a spice mill, and the taste will be infinitely fresher. This stew is traditionally eaten with the hands only, using a flatbread to scoop up the tender chicken and eggs.
For the berbere spice blend, toast the coriander seeds in a small frying pan for a minute. When they are fragrant, tip into a spice mill and add the fenugreek, cardamom, allspice and cloves and whizz to a powder. Tip into a small bowl and stir through the paprika, chilli powder, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
Take a large, heavy-based pan – ideally wide enough to fit the chicken thighs in a single layer – and set over a low heat. Add the butter and, once melted, add the onions. Cook over a very low heat until the onions are very soft and lightly coloured, about 40–45 minutes – the longer the better in terms of flavour. Raise the heat a little and add the chicken thighs, skin down, and fry for 10 minutes or so until pale golden brown. Turn the thighs skin side up and stir through the garlic, ginger, berbere spice blend and tomato purée and pour over 400ml cold water. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook gently for an hour.
Remove the lid and continue to simmer for another 45–60 minutes to thicken the sauce. The chicken should now be really tender and coming away from the bone. Add the egg halves, tucking them between the chicken thighs and pressing them into the sauce, and simmer for another 5 minutes or so until they are warmed through. Divide between bowls and serve with the flatbreads as cutlery!