Mesir Wat is a thick stew originally from Ethiopia. The name comes from mesir (meaning lentils) and wat (meaning stew). Mesir wat and other types of wat are usually served on Injera, a thin, spongy sourdough bread. To eat, rip off pieces of Injera and use it to scoop up the wat, creating a delicious bite full of stew and bread!
Mesir wat is typically eaten with Injera and other stews and toppings, like Ye’abesha Gomen (Ethiopian collard greens) or Doro Wat (chicken and egg stew). This recipe traditionally uses Niter Kibbeh, an Ethiopian spiced butter, but we substituted ours with oil. You can try making your own Niter Kibbeh and Injera at home, or find them at your local Ethiopian restaurant or market!
Prep time 15 min | Cook time 35 min | Total time 50 min | Yield: 6 servings of 1 cup
- 1 yellow onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 Tbsp ginger
- 2 cups red lentils
- 4 Tbsp oil (olive, canola, sunflower) or Niter Kibbeh
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 3 Tbsp berbere*
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- Wash onions, garlic, and ginger. Rinse lentils thoroughly, and let them soak while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Chop onion, mince garlic, and grate ginger.
- Heat a large non-stick saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. (Do not add the oil yet!) Once the pan is hot, add onion and cook until the onions are “sweating,” stirring often, about 5 minutes.
- Add oil, garlic, and ginger and cook 5 more minutes.
- Add the turmeric, paprika, cardamom, and berbere. Add a few tablespoons of water and reduce heat to medium, stirring frequently for 10 minutes, adding an extra splash of water if necessary to avoid sticking.
- Add the soaked lentils, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are soft, about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Note: You’ll want the lentils to get a little stuck to the pan at the bottom but not burn. Scraping the caramelized lentils into the rest of the stew will give it good flavor.)
- Serve with injera and enjoy!
*NOTE: Berbere is a spice blend widely used in Ethiopian cuisine. Whole spices of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, ginger, fenugreek, nutmeg, allspice, dried red hot peppers, and paprika, are toasted in a pan to release their aromatic flavors, then ground to a powder. If you do not have berbere, you can substitute in a combination of the above spices (whole or ground).
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