Our weekly potluck had an Ethiopian night. My friend Adrienne cooked up a red lentil stew which is a staple in Ethiopian cuisine – this stew is called Mesir Wat (pronounced me-sir wot) is loaded with onions, ginger, garlic and lots of spices. Most recipes call for berbere paste, a hot spice blend made of chiles, paprika and too many spices to count. As berbere is not commonly found in most grocery stores, this recipe uses a combination of garam masala (an Indian spice blend), paprika, turmeric and tomato paste to replicate its flavor. The rich blend of flavors is a real treat of the senses.
2 cups red lentils
1 large onion, chopped
3 tbsp oil or butter
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper
Place a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add the oil or butter and chopped onions and saute for 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add the ginger and garlic and saute another 2 minutes.
Next add the spices and tomato paste along with 2 tsp of salt. Mix well, then add the lentils and 6 cups of water.
Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Uncover and stir the lentils, then continue to cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until a thick porridge-like consistency is reached.
Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve.