Misir Wot is an Ethiopian-style lentil stew that I make by cooking red lentils in clarified butter, aromatics, and season it with an Ethiopian spice blend called Berbere. It is one of the signature vegetarian dishes that you’ll find in an Ethiopian restaurant.
‘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, which 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, that are toasted and ground together. This spice blend provides a distinctive tangy 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).
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.
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.
Recipes for More Ethiopian Food
Here are a few more recipes for dishes made with Ethiopian flavors:
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Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew | Misir Wot in Instant Pot
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
- 1 large onion chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic crushed: 1/2 inch ginger + 2 cloves garlic OR 1/2 teaspoon Ginger Powder + 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 cup Red Lentils rinsed 2-3 times
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt is using Berbere, adjust salt based on spice blend contents
You can substitute the following spices with 1.5 tablespoons of Berbere Seasoning
- Prep: In a mini food processor, pulse ginger and garlic for 5-7 times. Now add onion chunks and pulse another 5 times. This is a quick and tear-free way to get everything chopped finely 🙂
- Turn the Instant Pot on Sauté mode. Wait 1 minute till the inner pot is hot and melt butter/ghee in it. Add chopped onion, sauté for 30 seconds. Add ginger-garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. (If adding together, sauté for a minute).
- Add tomato paste and the Berbere seasoning / spice mix. Stir well. Add rinsed and drained lentils, water and stir. Press "cancel", close the lid and hit Manual, High-Pressure for 5 minutes. Wait for Natural release of pressure.
- Open the Instant pot lid after natural pressure release (NPR). Finish the dish with a light squeeze of lime juice. Check for seasoning. If you like the lentils to be more mushy, use a whisk and stir till you reach a desired consistency. 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 and simmer the lentils on medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Stir every few minutes or so, till you reach a desired consistency.