Lentils are an essential in many cultures as they are versatile and packed with protein. Misir in Amharic stands for lentils and wot means stew or curry. I was introduced to Ethiopian food by my boyfriend, we went out for Ethiopian food here in Berlin and I fell in love with the flavors, spices and food traditions like eating from a huge platter together. Ethiopian food is usually served on a huge platter (traditionally on a straw platter) an injera is laid out -the traditional Ethiopian sourdough bread made out of teff (originally gluten-free but many restaurants nowadays mix it with wheat…)- and different wot’s are placed on top of the Injera.
Since i am all about experimenting and cooking things myself, i had to make my own wot. Its healthier to cook things yourself as you know exactly what goes into what you are making. Restaurants in my opinion are going overboard with some ingredients such as oil, i am not saying that eating out is bad- i mean i live in Berlin a culinary metropolis- but maybe you should let those meals out inspire you to whip up the food yourself just to your liking and with less salt and oil and all that not so good stuff.
This recipe does though call for original Ethiopian good stuff, that is the whimsical red hot spice mix Berbere. The Spice mix is a blend of fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, chili peppers and korarima ( which is a plant that grows wild in Ethiopia and is known as Ethiopian Cardamon). This mix can be found in all Ethiopian and spice stores, sometimes even sold in Italian grocery stores in the spice section. In Berlin it is easy to get your hands on it, even the organic brand Sonnentor has a Berbere mix thus you can get it in the spice section from organic stores here as well, and if all else fails just order it online. Its essential for this recipe and its what gives the lentils its red hot color and rich spicy taste.
1 red onion diced ( white onion works too)
2 cups of dried red lentils (washed)
1 Tbs of tomato paste
2 tbs of berbere spice ( more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp tumeric powder (also known as curcuma)
a pinch of cumin powder
1 crushed garlic clove
1 medium sized knob crushed ginger
4 cups of water
2/3 can of crushed tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
-Put a tablespoon of olive oil in cooking pot and place it on a medium high heat stove top.
-Once the oil is hot but not smoking hot place the onions in and let them saute, when the onions are glassy add the garlic and ginger turn the heat a bit lower you don’t want the garlic and ginger to burn.
-Add in the berbere, turmeric and cumin and mix it well.
-Place in the lentils and stir everything together.
-Toss in the tomato paste and stir in well together.
-Add the crushed tomatoes followed by 3 1/2 cups of water.
-Lower the heat and let it simmer, stir occasionally and add in the rest of the water, when there is a visible reduction of water. Let it simmer for 30 mins, stir in salt to your taste and then serve.
– Serve with rice, bread and all the other carbs you can think of. However if you can get your hands on injera, then ignore everything else and devour it with injera!
Tip: This can also be enjoyed cold and stores up-to 3 days in the fridge so its also a great recipe for meal preps. Perfect recipe for creating a tasty nourishing wholesome happy bowl.