Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew | Misir Wot in Instant Pot

October 28, 2017 (Updated: January 18, 2020) By Aneesha |

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see disclosures.

Misir Wot, an Ethiopian-style stew, in which red lentils are cooked in clarified butter, aromatics, and seasoned with an earthy and floral spice blend, Berbere.  Here’s an easy Instant Pot and stove recipe for one of the signature vegetarian dishes in Ethiopian cuisine.

Ethiopian style Red lentil stew garnished with paprika and melted ghee

‘Wat’ or ‘Wot‘ is an Ethiopian style stew or curry that you can prepare with chicken, beef, lamb, lentils and a variety of vegetables.   I cook this stew using Red lentils, in Ghee or clarified butter, and season it with the ‘Berbere‘  Ethiopian spice blend.

Ethiopian Spice Blend: Berbere

Most Ethiopian recipes are traditionally made with a spice blend called Berbere Seasoning. It is a combination of warm whole spices like cumin, cardamom, coriander, and fenugreek, garlic, cloves, turmeric, grated ginger root, black pepper, salt, paprika, cinnamon, and dried red chiles.

These spices are toasted, cooled then ground together.  This spice blend provides a distinctive earthy, tangy and slightly spicy flavor to the lentils, stews and curries.

Making Berbere From Garam Masala

When I first started cooking Ethiopian food at home, I wasn’t too keen on buying a speciality spice blend (Berbere) that I wouldn’t use “that” often. 

So, I looked up the composition of the Berbere and realized that this spice combination is very similar to the Garam Masala blend.

I used garam masala and added a few additional spices to replicate the flavor of a berbere blend.  The result was super successful.

If you have the berbere spice blend, substitute my spice list with 1.5-2​ tablespoons​ Berbere spice​ mix (depending on how warm you like it).​

Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew- Misir Wot

Misir Wot Stove Top Recipe

In the video, I made this red lentil recipe in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot DUO.   Misir Wot can also be made in a traditional stove-top pressure cooker.

Simply follow your cooker’s lentil cooking times and procedures and follow this recipe.  You can also make this dish on the stove-top, using a sauce pot or dutch oven.

I would advise using a heavy bottom pan, since that can evenly distribute the heat.  Simply follow all the instructions and simmer the lentils on medium heat for 10-12 minutes.

Stir every few minutes or so, till you reach a desired consistency.

Serving Suggestion for Misir Wot

Misir Wot is traditionally served family style over a spongy flatbread called Injera.  I pair it with couscous and a garden salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette.

I used red lentils in this recipe, but you can also make Misir Wot with yellow split lentils, green lentils or any quick cooking lentils as well.

This dish pairs well with Key Wat– a traditional Beef stew using the same spice blend.  Check out my easy recipe for Ethiopian Beef Key Wat.

More Ethiopian Recipes from my Kitchen

Here are a few more recipes for dishes made with Ethiopian flavors:

Instant Pot Ethiopian Beef Key Wot Stew

Ethiopian Beef Stew Instant Pot

Chicken Noodle Soup with Ethiopian spices

Instant pot Chicken Noodle Soup with Ethiopian spices by Spice Cravings. This classic Chicken Noodle soup is made by simmering chicken and vegetables, such as carrots and celery, spices, herbs and small noodles in chicken broth.  This recipe uses the Ethiopian Spice blend called Berbere Seasoning to enhance the flavor and made in an instant pot. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below! For more quick & easy recipes, FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram,  Pinterest and Youtube.

Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew- Misir Wot

Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew | Misir Wot in Instant Pot

Misir Wot is an Ethiopian lentil stew made by cooking lentils in clarified butter, ghee, and ‘Berbere’ spice blend.  I used the instant pot for this recipe, to bring down total cooking time to less than 30 minutes.
4.52 from 31 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
NPR: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 173kcal


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee (see notes)
  • 1 cup onion chopped fine (1 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger (1-inch ginger grated or minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste (or 1 roma tomato pureed)
  • 1 cup Red Lentils rinsed 2-3 times
  • cups water Adjust consistency after cooking (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt ; if using Berbere, adjust salt based on spice blend contents
  • 1½-2 tablespoons Berbere Seasoning (reduce to 1 tbsp for mild)
  • Few drops of lime juice garnish before serving

How to make your own Berbere Seasoning



Instant Pot Method

  • Turn on Sauté mode. Wait 30-40 seconds for the inner pot to get hot and add butter or ghee. Add chopped onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until onions soften.
  • Add minced ginger and garlic and sauté another minute.
  • Add tomato paste, salt and Berbere seasoning / spice mix. Stir well. Add rinsed and drained lentils, water and stir. Press 'Cancel' and close the lid. Select Manual or Pressure cook and cook for 4 minutes at high pressure on sealing mode.
  • After the cooking is complete, wait 5 minutes for natural pressure release, then follow the quick release instructions. Open the lid after the pin drops.
  • Stir and check for consistency. If the stew seems too thick, add ½-1 cup of water (or as needed) and stir well till the water gets absorbed and lentils reach a creamy consistency. Check for seasoning.
  • Finish the dish with a light squeeze of lime juice. Serve with couscous with a garden salad dressed with fresh lemon vinaigrette, or, the traditional sourdough flatbread, Injera.

Stove top recipe

  • You can also make this dish on the stove-top, using a heavy bottom sauce pot or dutch oven.  Simply follow all the instructions for sautéing, add lentils, spices and 3 cups of water. 
  • Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover the pot and cook for 12-15 minutes until the lentils cook through and reach a creamy consistency. Be sure to stir every few minutes or so.


Notes & Recipe Tips

  1. Cooking Fat: If using the Ethiopian clarified butter called ‘Niter Kibeh’ instead of ghee or butter, use an equal quantity as ghee.
  2. Rinse lentils: Rinse red lentils 2-3 times until water runs clear.  This gets rid of any excess starch which can otherwise cause your stew to be thicker than you like.
  3. Water quantity: The consistency of this stew is mushy and creamy. After pressure cooking if your stew look very thick, add 1/2-1 cup water (or more) to loosen them.  Adjust the quantity of water to reach your desired consistency. 
  4. Berbere: Some store-bought brands tend to be on the spicier side. If unsure about spice level, start by adding 1 tablespoon.  After pressure cooking, add more after tasting and simmer for 1-2 minutes. To make it mild, you can follow the recipe and skip the cayenne. 
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.


Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 416mg | Potassium: 357mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 425IU | Vitamin C: 3.9mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 2.6mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Ethiopian, Northern African
Keyword: ethiopian lentils, ethiopian red lentil stew, misir wot, red lentil recipe
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!


Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

You Might Also Like