Misir Wot (Ethiopian Spiced Red Lentils)

Blessing Funmilayo
Blessing Funmilayohttps://afrifoodnetwork.com/
Hello, my name is Funmilayo, and i love to write about food, beauty, fashion and wellness. So welcome to my Food world! I share histories, discoveries, uniqueness, tips, and tricks on different dishes .Come let's take this adventure together. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do and hope to see you back here again soon.
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Misir Wot is a stewed vegetarian dish from Ethiopia made with red lentils. This is a popular dish very rich in flavor thanks to the presence of spices and spicy clarified butter known as niter kibbeh.

If you order a vegetarian platter at an Ethiopian restaurant, Misir Wot is sure to be present at the table! The flavor is simply out of this world!

What is Misir Wat?

Misir wat, also known as misir wot, is tasty red lentil-based vegetarian dish. It is a 
unique blend of flavors that falls in between spicy lentil soup and dhal. The use of berbere, spice blend, lends this simmering meal distinct flavor. 

Misir wat has a deep red color due to the presence of tomatoes and tomato puree. It also contains garlic and onions confited in spicy clarified butter, niter kibbeh.

It is a popular dish and in addition, it is found on the menu of several Ethiopian restaurants. Its texture is semi thick. It is often eaten as an accompaniment to injera.

Misir Wot Recipe

Misir wat starts with onions that are slowly caramelized in niter kibbeh, Ethiopia’s popular 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.

Tips to Make the Best Misir Wat

  • To achieve creamy, semi-thick consistency without breaking the lentils, make sure to  thoroughly wash them and do not overcook them. When lentils are overcooked, they  become heavy and mushy.
  • Another technique is to cook the onions in the kibbeh niter slowly before adding the rest of the ingredients. This step is necessary to liberate all of the spices’ scents from the  spicy clarified butter.
  • Also, when caramelizing the onions in the niter kibbeh, be careful not to burn them. 
    As result, use wooden spatula to constantly whisk the onion mixture.
  • The secret to the success of this spicy Ethiopian lentil stew lies in the cooking. Indeed, the misir wot is a simmered dish that requires slow cooking. The red lentil dish should simmer for 40 minutes to an hour over low heat. It is during this slow cooking that the aromas of misir wot will develop.
  • Also, if the water evaporates too quickly, don’t hesitate to add more during cooking. Ideally, add half a glass of water at a time so as not to alter the consistency of the misir wat.

Storage and Reheating

Misir wot can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave on full power (covered) or on the stove top over medium-low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Also, leftover mekelesha spice blend can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months.

Be Sure to Try These Other Authentic Ethiopian dishes!

Be sure to recreate this incredible delicacy that is not only delicious but also full of proteins, fiber, and tons of vitamins like iron and calcium needed for your body. Bon appétit!

Misir Wat

Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post
Misir wat (or misir wot) is a delicious traditional Ethiopian vegetarian dish made with red lentils, tomatoes, niter kibbeh, and berbere.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Ethiopia
Servings 4
Calories 252 kcal


For the mekelesha spice blend

  • About 30 green cardamom pods (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the lentils

  • About 1 1/2 cups (8 3/4 ounces) dried split red lentils
  • 1/4 cup sunflower, canola or other neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 medium (8 3/4 ounces) yellow or red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons berbere
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nigella seeds (buy pre-ground or grind yourself )
  • 3 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon mekelesha spice blend


  • Make the mekelesha spice blend: In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the cardamom pods until fragrant. Crack open the pods with the back of a knife, the bottom of a solid glass, a mortar and pestle or just your fingers and remove the seeds. Grind the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. You will need 1/2 teaspoon of the ground spice.
  • In a small bowl, blend the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. You’ll need only 1/2 teaspoon for this recipe. (Store the rest in a cool, dry place for future misir wot batches or other stews and curries.)
  • Make the lentils: Place the lentils in a large bowl or colander, and pick over and discard any debris. Rinse the lentils until the water runs mostly clear (a little cloudy is okay, but you’ll see it turn from almost white to much more transparent as you go).
  • In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, warm the oil. You may see a little rippling, but not much since the pan won’t get too hot. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Stir in the berbere and nigella along with a splash of water. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, stir, add another splash of water and cook for 5 minutes. Repeat the process every 5 minutes until the onions have cooked for a total of 25 to 30 minutes (no need to add more water at the end unless it’s looking very dry). Don’t rush the process or crank up the heat: The goal is to get the onions very soft and cooked down to almost a paste, as well as rounding out the berbere flavor and darkening its color.
  • Stir in the lentils, 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, or as needed, to maintain a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally, adding water as you go along to ensure the lentils cook through and the dish doesn’t dry out. You should use about 3 cups of water total. If you prefer a soupier stew, use more. Cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, with just a bit of bite, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring in the 1/2 teaspoon of the mekelesha when they’re almost done. You can choose to cook the lentils longer, or gently mash them, if you want them broken down more. Taste, and season with more salt, if desired.
  • Remove from the heat. The misir wot is ready to serve, but will be better if refrigerated overnight, then reheated


Calories: 252kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Blessing Funmilayo
Blessing Funmilayohttps://afrifoodnetwork.com/
Hello, my name is Funmilayo, and i love to write about food, beauty, fashion and wellness. So welcome to my Food world! I share histories, discoveries, uniqueness, tips, and tricks on different dishes .Come let's take this adventure together. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do and hope to see you back here again soon.

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