One of Ethiopia’s most popular vegetarian dishes, Misir Wat showcases lentils in a way that’s unlike any you’ve had before. The flavor is simply out of this world! Vegetarian-friendly and so delicious that even devout carnivores won’t miss the meat!
It’s been said that the best vegetarian cuisines in the world are Indian and Ethiopian and I can’t disagree. The flavor profiles of both cuisines bring even the blandest ingredients to life with their rich combinations of spices and herbs.
Misir Wat (also Misir Wot) is one such example of a dish that truly excels in the vegetarian realm. A dish featuring red lentils, an abundantly available crop, Misir Wat is a staple dish throughout Ethiopia and one of the most popular vegetarian dishes in Ethiopian restaurants. If you order a mixed combination platter at an Ethiopian restaurant or order vegetarian, misir wat is almost always among the selections.
Misir wat starts with onions that are slowly caramelized in niter kibbeh, Ethiopia’s popluar and incredibly flavorful spiced clarified butter. Garlic and tomato paste are added. The comes a generous dose of berbere, Ethiopia’s famous chili seasoning blend. It’s normally fiery-hot (and what you get in Ethiopia is even hotter than what you typically find outside of the country), but our blend tones down the heat and gives you the option of adding it according to your preference.
The lentils are then slow-simmered with these highly aromatic and flavorful ingredients until they’re soft. Another spoonful of niter kibbeh and berbere are added in at the end for an added boost of flavor.
Misir wat is typically served with injera, Ethiopia’s staple fermented flatbread that’s also used as an eating instrument to scoop up the lentils.
Misir Wat Recipe
Let’s get started!
Melt 3 tablespoons of the niter kibbeh in a medium stock pot. Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of the berbere and cook for 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat if needed to prevent burning.
Next we’re adding the broth. As with everything I recommend using the best ingredients you can find and the broth we love and recommend with enthusiasm is Aneto. We visited their factory in Barcelona Spain a year ago and watched the entire broth-making process from start to finish. It was so inspiring! Check out our post about it and take a virtual tour.
Aneto selects fresh, free-range chicken and the freshest vegetables and slow-simmer it in gigantic pots for several hours to produce the highest quality broths on the market. No concentrates, powders, artificial ingredients, “natural flavors”, GMO’s, fillers or flavor enhancers of any kind. Just pure, whole, real ingredients. We love and highly recommend Aneto.
For misir wat you can use either chicken broth or if you’re vegetarian, vegetable broth.
Aneto’s broths are sold in store locations throughout the U.S., please see the store list find a store near you. Alternatively you can also find them on Amazon, though the prices are higher there. The best value is the 6-pack chicken broth. See also the vegetable broth.
Stir in the remaining tablespoon of niter kibbeh and berbere. Simmer for a couple more minutes. Add salt to taste.
STRONGLY RECOMMENDED FOR BEST FLAVOR RESULTS: MAKE YOUR OWN NITER KIBBEH AND BERBERE!
Misir Wat (Ethiopian Spiced Red Lentils)
- 4 tablespoons niter kibbeh , divided
- Homemade Niter Kibbeh (strongly recommended)
- 1 large yellow onion, very finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 Roma tomato, very finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons bebere , divided
- Homemade Berbere (strongly recommended)
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 2 1/2 cups Aneto All-Natural Chicken Broth
- vegetarians: use Aneto Vegetable Broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the niter kibbeh in a medium stock pot. Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of the berbere and cook for 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat if needed to prevent burning.
- Add the lentils, broth and salt, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer the lentils, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes (adding more broth if needed) or until the lentils are soft.
- Stir in the remaining tablespoon of niter kibbeh and berbere. Simmer for a couple more minutes. Add salt to taste.
- Serve with Ethiopian injera.
Thank you to Aneto for sponsoring this recipe and to my readers for supporting the brands who help make The Daring Gourmet possible!
I really enjoyed this. I was a bit worried about the berbere, since I didn’t have whole dried peppers; I just used ordinary red pepper flakes, so the amount and the heat level was something of a guess. But the level of heat turned out okay, albeit on the mild side, and the actual flavour was delicious.
I’m not a fan of sourdough so I used roti instead of injera. I also bumped it up to 1 1/2 cups of lentils, and increased the broth and spices to compensate, which gave me three generous servings.
I should have enough berbere and niter kibeh left for both the doro wat and sega wat recipes too, which I’m looking forward to making.
Had this recently on a visit to OKC, was looking forward to trying to recreate it. Turned out great. Cheated a little on the niter gibbah, used already prepared ghee, let spices simmer in it for about 15 minutes or so as I chopped the onion and garlic to add to it, then simmer that for a while as I chopped up the onion and garlic for the misir wot. Next time I’ll try to make injera to serve with it. Thanks for the recipe.
Kimberly Killebrew says
Fantastic, Cron, I’m thrilled you enjoyed it, thank you! And that’s a perfectly acceptable cheat! :)
Hello, this recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it! I was wondering if maybe you know how to make or know where to direct me to find the sweet and delicious salad dressing recipe used in the ‘green salad’?? Thank you :)
Kimberly Killebrew says
Hi Kiki, I’m not sure but perhaps one of our readers can chime in…