Redolent with spices, misir wot, an Ethiopian red-lentil stew, is a feast for all the senses!
The spicy smell of this dish gets your tastebuds going well ahead of time, and it sweeps through the house for days making you want to come home and enjoy it again.
It is filling enough to satisfy even the largest of appetites and It is also pretty simple to make. You can make your own spice blend or buy a pre-mixed one. Misir wot is generally served with rice or injera bread.
Injera is a sour pancake made out of teff flour. There are many different types of injera, including flatbread, steamed bread, and fermented dough.
Traditional Ethiopian fast foods include tsebhi, a thick oatmeal made out of millet; fik, a stew made out of beans and vegetables; and wot, a spicy lentil soup.
We’ll look at these a bit later in the article but firstly, let’s consider the first 5 recipes to get the taste buds going.
1. Misir Wot Stew
This traditional hearty stew is made with lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, spices and herbs. Misir wot certainly is a great comfort food. This version is vegan and gluten-free.
It is very easy to make, even easier if you buy the pre-made spice mix. If you want to add some extra flavor, try adding roasted garlic cloves or chopped up dried apricots.
As we’ve mentioned, misir wot is traditionally eaten with injera, the soft, spongy Ethiopian flat bread made with teff flour, but it is equally delicious with white or brown rice.
In addition, you can also serve misir wot with a vegetable side, such as cauliflower sabzi, cabbage thoran, or carrot raita.
Misir wot is one of those dishes that taste even better the following day. This stew is traditionally cooked overnight to allow it to absorb all the flavors.
You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to four days. To reheat, simply add some water and heat gently over low heat. To cook and freeze misir wot, follow these simple steps:
- Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3
- Put the pot into the oven and cover with foil
- Cook for 2 hours.
- Remove the pot from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Cover the pot with cling film and place in the freezer
- Freeze for 8–12 hours.
- Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and label.
2. Spicy Berbere Lentil Chili
This delicious chili can be made using Ethiopian lentils.
There is something special about chili, especially during the winter months. This vegetarian version of the classic dish is delicious and packed full of nutritious ingredients.
The inspiration for this dish comes from Ethiopia and the misir wot spicy red bean stew. The flavors complement each other well.
You can adapt the recipe by adding some cumin, coriander, and turmeric or chili to add a spicy kick.
Lentils are great because they are inexpensive, versatile, and easy to cook. They work well in soups, stews, salads, and even desserts. Plus, they are high in protein and fiber.
In addition to being healthy, lentils are delicious. They taste similar to split peas, and they are often used interchangeably.
In fact, most recipes calling for lentils call for split peas too so feel free to use split peas as an alternative.
What Is Berbere?
The word berbere translates to “to taste good.” In fact, it’s one of the most important words you’ll ever learn about food in Ethiopia. Berbere is a spice mix that is the base of Ethiopia and Eritrea’s cuisines.
You’ll find berbere is the base mix in Ethiopia’s most popular national Dish, Doro Wat (Chicken Stew), and Eritrea’s national dish, Kibbeh (Meatball Soup).
Berbere is a mixture of spices that are blended together in each individual cook’s home, very often they are made using different blends for different foods.
There are no exact recipes for making berbere because every chef makes his/her own version based on what he/she likes best.
Some common ingredients include garlic, onion, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seed, nutmeg, pepper, salt, turmeric, cayenne, fenugreek, black pepper, and white pepper.
Why not experiment with spices you like best to make your own ‘berbere.’
3. Kik Alicha
Kik alicha is another traditional Ethiopian dish similar to misir wot but made with yellow split peas cooked in a spicy red gravy.
The recipe calls for the use of niter kibbeh (also known as niger kibbeh), a type of clarified butter commonly used in Ethiopian cuisine.
This particular type of clarified butter is usually prepared by cooking beef fat over low heat until it becomes clear and fragrant. Once cooled down, the milk solids are removed from the oil and discarded.
Niter kibbeh is typically used in stews like kik alicha, and also added to injera bread, and tsemaye (roasted ground coffee).
The preparation of kik alichi is quite simple. Two main ingredients are needed, namely yellow split peas and the nitor kibbeh.
Yellow split peas are soaked overnight in water and boiled till soft. They are drained and mashed well.
Next, the mixture is added to a pot containing niter kibbeh and spices such as cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, bay leaves, and salt.
Again, feel free to experiment with your favorite spice blends and flavors.
The mixture is stirred continuously while being heated slowly. When the desired consistency is reached, the kik alicha can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to one week.
4. Lentil Soup
This recipe is another misir wot inspired dish. It’s a traditional Lebanese soup made with lentils, chickpeas, and spices. This recipe is easy to make, tastes great, and is perfect for those cold winter nights.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the niger kibbeh in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add the onion and sauté for about 8-10 minutes until the onion turns light brown.
Next, add the garlic, tomato purée and 1 tbs of berbere spice mix.
Cook for another 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Then, add the lentils and stock. Bring the mixture to a slow boil, cover the pot and let it simmer for 45-60 minutes until the lentils are cooked.
If you want a thicker stew, just add more stock.
Lastly, stir in the remaining tablespoon of nigiri kibbeh and berberé spice mix. Serve hot with pita bread.
5. Doro Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Chicken Stew)
This authentic Doro Wat recipe captures the very best of Ethiopian cooking! Doro Wat is one of the most famous of all Ethiopian dishes and is a chicken version of misir wot.
You will find it in every Ethiopian restaurant and it is served over rice and eaten with injera bread, the sourdough flatbread we mentioned earlier.
This chicken stew is traditionally flavored with berbere spice blend which gives it its characteristic flavor.
In addition to the berbere spice blend, doro wat also contains other spices including cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and mace.
This dish is ideal for dinner parties or special occasions. It’s healthy, filling and delicious!
When you think about Ethiopian food it’s impossible not to think about injera bread. As mentioned earlier, this soft, spongy flatbread is the main edible serving dish and culture for all the delicious dishes.
It is served with every meal and is often eaten alongside spicy stews, lentils, beans and vegetables.
The bread is fermented over several days and up to a month depending on the temperature. It is traditionally made from teff flour, however, many people use wheat flour today.
If you can’t find ready-made injera bread, you can easily make it yourself. You just need to start with some teff flour.
You can use it like pizza crust, or serve it as a side dish. To make injera, start with a pancake-like batter (recipe easily sourced online).
Add some water to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a hot pan. Flip once the bottom is browned, about 5 minutes total. Serve warm.
Vegan And Vegetarian Heaven
Ethiopian food is one of the healthiest diets around and there are many dishes that are vegetarian and even vegan friendly.
In fact, Ethiopia is a dream destination for vegans and vegetarians because of the abundance of tasty and nutritious vegan options. There are plenty of restaurants serving up vegan fast foods and traditional Ethiopian meals.
The most popular dish among vegetarians and vegans is the misir wot stew which we’ve looked at in this article.
It is packed full of lentils and is super delicious. Don’t forget to try out the first recipe in our list, you won’t regret it.
Misir Wot is an amazing dish that has so much flavor and texture. It’s a perfect starter for any Ethiopian feast. If you love lentils then this is definitely a must-try dish.
The combination of flavors is absolutely divine. Enjoy!
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