Spiced Red Lentils

The heat in this deeply satisfying red lentil dish--called misir wat in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia--comes mainly from berbere, the ground Ethiopian spice blend that includes chile pepper, cardamom, coriander, ajwain and fenugreek.

  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8
KEY: African, Beans, Grains & Legumes, Side Dishes, Healthy, Staff Favorites, Vegetarian, Dinner

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium red onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons berbere, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons nigella seeds, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups red lentils (1 1/4 pounds)

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, berbere, nigella seeds, cardamom and a generous pinch each of salt and black pepper and cook until fragrant and deeply colored, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the red lentils with 8 cups of water to the casserole and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have cooked downand thickened, 25 minutes. Season the lentils with salt and pepper. Ladle the lentils into bowls, sprinkle with berbere and serve.

Make Ahead

The cooked lentils can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat the dish gently before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Spiced, lively Italian white.

Photo © John Kernick Published November 2012

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