Misir Wot (Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)

So misir wot is a lentil stew, but consistency-wise it’s a lot more like a porridge, and that’s important to the recipe. It doesn’t seem to taste right otherwise. The spiced butter gives it a little earthy undertone, and the berbere spice just a bit of a kick.

This definitely isn’t a “with rice” dish. It’s plenty all on it’s own, and basmati rice has a pretty strong flavor that will fight with it.  As a second note, it reheats just as good (if not better).

Bowl of Misir Wot


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 bowl
Servings Per Container 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 133 Calories from Fat 8.1
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.9g 1%
Saturated Fat 0.2g 1%
Trans Fat g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 966mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 23.9g 8%
Dietary Fiber 5.2g 21%
Sugars 2.5g
Protein 6.6g 13%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Shopping List:

  • 2 cups red or orange lentils
  • 2 tbsp niter kibbeh (recipe) or unsalted butter. (Substitute olive oil for vegan)
  • 1-1/2 tsp melkesha spice blend (optional, see below)
  • 2 tbsp berbere spice blend
  • 1.5 pounds red onion (approx.)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger, peeled and minced (or paste)
  • Turmeric
  • 1 medium tomato (about 8 ounces)

Melkesha is best bought on the internet, but this will work for this recipe:

    • 1/4 tsp cardamom
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp cloves
    • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp cumin

Prep work: First up, soak the lentils for at least three hours (the longer the better). Keep an eye on them and add water as necessary to keep them covered.  Soon after that, make the niter kibbeh, so the flavors have time to settle. When it’s closer to cooking time, mince the onion to ~1/8″ pieces, and in a separate bowl, dice up the tomatoes into ~3/8″ cubes, and retain the juice/seeds.

To begin cooking, with a karahi or 3.5-4 quart dutch oven set the stove to medium-low and add in the onions. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are a bit mushy, which will probably take 20-30(ish) minutes.

Next, melt in 2 tbsp of niter kibbeh and add in 1 tbsp ginger and 1 tbsp minced garlic. Saute for another minute or two until the garlic works in, then  add 2 tbsp berbere, 1.5 tsp meklesha, and 1 tsp turmeric.  Toss to coat and cook, stirring regularly for another 3-4 minutes.

Pour in 1/2 cup of water, and stir quickly to deglaze the pan. Then add in the tomatoes. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices.

Finally, rinse the lentils and add to the pot. Cover with water and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until they get mushy (red lentils may take less time). Add water as necessary to keep the stew from drying out, but it should be thick like a porridge.

Serve in bowls.