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Shared by Beejhy Barhany

Messer Wot (Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)

Yield: 6 - 8 servingsTime: 1 h

Messer Wot (Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)

Yield: 6 - 8 servingsTime: 1 h

Family Journey

Tigray Region, EthiopiaKhartoum, SudanPardes Hana, Israel
AshkelonKibbutz AlumimNew York City

Store the leftover berbere spice mix in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Alternatively, you can buy berbere spice mix online.

This recipe was shared by Beejhy Barhany. Read more about her family in "The Sacred Ethiopian Bread That Traveled 500 Miles by Foot and Horse" and try her recipe for dabo (Ethiopian bread).


For the berbere spice mix:

  • 2½ tablespoons hot paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the stew:

  • 2 medium red onions, quartered
  • 2 large yellow onions, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • A 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable
  • Generous ½ cup tomato paste
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons berbere spice mix (above)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
Soups & StewsShabbatVeganVegetarianKosher for PassoverGluten FreePareve


  • Step 1

    Make the spice mix: Put all the spices in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

  • Step 2

    Make the stew: Put the red and yellow onions, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and process to a fine paste. (Do this in batches if your food processor bowl isn't large.)

  • Step 3

    Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion paste and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced a bit and turned light brown, about 20 minutes.

  • Step 4

    Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomato paste, 1 cup of the water, the 2 tablespoons berbere spice mix, and salt and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.

  • Step 5

    Add the lentils and the remaining 4 cups water and stir well. Increase the heat to high and bring the stew to a boil, stirring occasionally, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, adjusting it as necessary so the stew simmers gently. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt if necessary. Serve hot.