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Shared by Beejhy Barhany

Messer Wot (Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)

Yield: 4 to 6 servingsTime: 1 h

Messer Wot (Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)

Yield: 4 to 6 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

  • 1 cup hot paprika or chile powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cloves 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom 
  • 1 tablespoon ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander  
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ tablespoon ground nutmeg 
  • ½ tablespoon ground fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the stew

  • 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup neutral oil like grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1 4½-ounce tomato paste tube
  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons berbere spice mix
  • 1½  teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
Soups & StewsShabbatVeganVegetarianKosher for PassoverGluten FreePareve


  • Step 1

    Make the berbere spice mix: Sift all the spices into a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

  • Step 2

    Place the red and yellow onions, garlic, and ginger into a food processor. Process for about 3 to 5 minutes until combined into a fine paste.

  • Step 3

    Place a medium pot over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, and ginger paste and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture has softened, reduced, and become light brown.

  • Step 4

    Reduce the heat to medium low and add the tomato paste, 1 cup of water, berbere spice, and salt. Cook for 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste starts to darken.

  • Step 5

    Add the lentils and 4 more cups of water into the pot. Stir well and increase the heat to high, bring the pot to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then, place a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking the stew on a gentle simmer, for about 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and cooked through. 

  • Step 6

    Serve the stew hot with a side of dabo.