Mesir Wat or Ethiopian Red Lentils

Red lentil 01

Ethiopian food, in a lot of ways is very similar to Indian food. Most of the Ethiopian & Indian dishes (stews and lentils) are very similar in the way they are prepared. A big difference between both the cuisines though is the complexity & use of spices. India dishes are way more spicier and complexed in preparation as compared to Ethiopian food.

Ethiopian culture promotes gursha eating which basically means eating from the same plate and sharing the same bread called Injeera. So, if you go to an Ethiopian restaurant (The Blue Nile in America) and order your food, it will come in a huge plate stacked up with few Injeeras with various preparation of stews, lentils and salad. You break the bread and scoop some of the stew or lentil with it. It is simple and delicious food served in a very unique way. So if you haven’t tried Ethiopian food as yet and there is an Ethiopian restaurant in your city, then I highly recommend that you go and try it at-least once.

Today’s recipe is Mesir Wat – or red lentils. Its a simple recipe which tastes best with Injeeras – which is a bit tough to make….mine didn’t turn out that great (so not posting the recipe here) but below are some links on how you can make it. There is a traditional recipe with teff flour (only available at ethnic stores) which takes around 5 days to make  in total and then there is a short cut to the same recipe. I am putting both links here (see below). If you feel brave – go ahead and give it a try or else enjoy these lentils over plain steamed rice – just like I did!

Injeerathe traditional way

Injeerashort cut

Red lentil

Serving for 2 to 3 people

Cooking time 40 minutes

Things you will need

1 cup dried red lentils

4 cups water

2 onions, peeled and diced roughly

1 small piece of ginger root

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoon paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp tumuric

1 tsp ground red chili (optional)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. Wash the red lentils in running tap water a few times. Keep aside.
  2. In a blender, puree onions, ginger and garlic to form a smooth paste.
  3. In a deep sauce pan heat oil. Add the onion puree and cook stirring continuously till the puree turns light brown.
  4. Add all the spices one by one and continue to cook for another minute or two.
  5. Add lentils and water and stir till its all mixed together.
  6. Add salt. Cover and cook on medium low for about 15 to 20 minutes or till the lentils are tender.
  7. Serve over rice or with Injeera.