Sep 27, 2011

Mesir Wat - Ethiopian Lentils

(Shown here with my delicious Stuffed Bell Peppers)
My favorite Ethiopian food is their spicy lentils - called Mesir Wat. They eat them with a round, sponge-y sour bread called Ingera. I think my husband is going to attempt to make some ingera this week, but these lentils are still yummy just eaten with a spoon. They were best served the next day, so I'd suggest making them the day before you plan on having them. You can then just re-heat and serve.


1 cup red lentils
4 tbsp. nit'r qibe (Ethiopian Spiced Butter) or unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. berbere (Ethiopian Spice Mix)*
1 small tomato, cored and chopped
Kosher salt, to taste

1. Rinse the lentils in a sieve under cold running water and set aside.

2. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the reserved lentils, 1 tbsp. of the berbere, tomato, and 4 cups water to the saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and the lentils are tender, 45–50 minutes. Stir in the remaining berbere and season generously with salt. Serve immediately.

*Berbere is an amazing mix of roasted spices. We bought our berbere in bulk at a market in Ethiopia when we traveled there two years ago, but you can usually find it in bigger cities or online. It is used to season many Ethiopian foods, but in our home my husband puts it on his eggs, chicken noodle soup, and anything else that he thinks needs an extra kick.

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