Mesir Wat (Spicy lentil stew)

[adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant and ]

1 cup split red lentils (See Note below)
2 cups water
1 c onion; finely chopped
2 cloves garlic; minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
2-4 Tbls. Spiced Ethiopian Butter (Niter Kebbeh) or unsalted butter
1 Tbls berberé
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 Tbls paprika
2 c Tomato; finely chopped
1/4 c Tomato paste
1 c Vegetable stock or water
Salt & Pepper to taste


Rinse red lentils until clean and debris-free.  Combine with water in saucepan.  Heat to boiling, then lower heat to medium and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes.  Spoon off any foam as it accumulates.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile sauté the onions in the butter, until the onions are just translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for a few minutes more, stirring to prevent burning.  Add the berberé, cumin, and paprika and sauté briefly to release the aromas of the spices. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock or water and continue simmering.

When the lentils are cooked, drain them and mix them into the sauté.  Add salt and black pepper to taste.  Stir to combine well.  Cook for another 5 minutes or until ready.  Serve with Injera or rice.

You can use any type of lentils. Small red split lentils require the shortest cooking time; for 1 cup of regular lentils and/or split peas you will need 3 cups of water and at least 40 minutes of cooking time.

Copyright © 2010, Lucinda DeWitt


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