Wat begins with a large amount of chopped red onion, which is simmered or sauteed in a pot. Once the onions have softened, niter kebbeh (or, in the case of vegan dishes, vegetable oil) is added. Following this, berbere is added to make a spicy keiy wat or keyyih tsebhi. Turmeric is used instead of bebere for a milder alicha wat or both are omitted when making vegetable stews, atkilt wat. Meat such as beef (Amharic: ሥጋ?, səga), chicken (Amharic: ዶሮ?, doro) or Tigrinya: derho?), fish (Amharic: ዓሣ?, asa), goat or lamb (Amharic: በግ?, beg or Tigrinya: beggi?) is also added. Legumes such as split peas (Amharic: ክክ?, kək or Tigrinya: kikki?') or lentils (Amharic: ምስር?, məsər or birsin); or vegetables such as potatoes (Amharic: ድንች?,[ Dənəch), carrots and chard (Tigrinya: costa) are also used instead in vegan dishes.
Typical serving of wat.
Each variation is named by appending the main ingredient to the type of wat (e.g. kek alicha wat). However, the word keiy is usually not necessary, as the spicy variety is assumed when it is omitted (e.g. doro wat). The term atkilt wat is sometimes used to refer to all vegetable dishes, but a more specific name can also be used (as in dinich'na caroht wat which translates to "potatoes and carrots stew"; but notice the word "atkilt is usually omitted when using the more specific term).
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