This Ethiopian lentil stew is made with veggies and hearty potatoes simmered in berbere-spiced red lentils, for a healthy and flavor-packed dish that's totally doable on a busy weeknight.
If you go to an Ethiopian restaurant you should find something on the menu that looks something like this dish, but it would be called misir wat, and it would be incredibly delicious. I had no idea when I first tried that dish how easy it was to make at home, but here it is, something very no-fuss that you can easily cook up on a weeknight in one pot.
I threw some extras into my stew, just because I like extras. The potatoes, tomatoes and spinach wouldn't be found in traditional versions of the dish, at least as far as I'm aware, but who doesn't love potatoes, tomatoes and spinach?
My other reason for the additions was to make up for the lack of injera, which is a big spongy sourdough tasting pancakey thing that this dish would normally be served with. If you can get your hands on one (or make it), I say go for it. It's delicious. I'm a bit challenged in that department, so I've been known to seek out creative swaps (exhibit a).
As you can see, I threw some turmeric rice into the meal as well. It's March, so winter is almost over and I'm going to carbify my meals as much as possible while I still have the cold weather as an excuse. If you'd like to go that route, just cook up some basmati with oil and a pinch of turmeric, or follow the rice portion of this recipe without the mustard seeds.
The key to making this meal so tasty and easy is Ethiopian berbere spice, which I definitely recommend having on hand, as it turns everything in it's path to delicious. I was lazy this time and bought mine online, but you can also make your own.
By the way, if you're looking for more cozy African stew deliciousness, check out my African peanut stew recipe.
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Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 1-2 tbsp. berbere spice blend, to taste, I went with 2 tablespoons but I like lots of spice
- ½-1 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste, optional
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups dried split red lentils
- 1 (14 oz. or 400 gram) can diced tomatoes
- 3 medium red potatoes, about ¾ lb. total, diced
- 3 cups fresh spinach leaves, sliced and lightly packed
- salt and pepper to taste
Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, berbere spice and cayenne and sauté 1 minute more.
Add broth, lentils, tomatoes and potatoes. Stir a few times, raise heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to cook until lentils are very soft and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in spinach and continue to cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a bit more berbere and cayenne, if desired.