Misir Wot (Ethiopian lentil stew)

Red lentils in a bowl with Berbere spices and lemon slices.

3.7 from 3 reviews

Misir wot (Ethiopian lentil stew) transforms red lentils into an unbelievably fragrant and a flavorful plant-based eating experience.


  • 1 large or 2 medium onions diced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 -3 Tbsp. Berbere spice blend
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed and sorted (I prefer split lentils, but you can use whole)
  • 4 cups water


  1. Preheat a pot to medium, then add the onions. Cook the onions until they start to become translucent and brown. If the onions begin to stick, add water a tablespoon at a time.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to coat everything in the spices for about 30 seconds to a minute.
  3. Immediately, add ½ cup of water to deglaze the pan.
  4. Add the tomatoes and allow them to cook and break down for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add 2 cups of lentils, 4 cups of water, and 2-3 Tbsp. of the Berbere spice blend. Mix everything, cover the pot, and allow the lentils to simmer until they are tender (15-20 minutes). Add more water ½ cup at-a-time if the lentils are not tender after the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Once the lentils are tender, remove them from the heat and serve in bowls. Serve the lentils with rice if you prefer.
  8. Garnish with lemon slices.


  • This recipe calls for split red lentils. They cook faster and have a creamier texture than whole red lentils. If you use whole lentils, allow an additional 10-15 minutes (or more) of cooking time. Monitor the water and add more if needed. Cook until the lentils are tender.
  • Look for Berbere spice blend in the specialty section of larger supermarkets and shops that have African foods. The best substitute for Berbere is to make your own. 

Keywords: misir wot