Photo credit Beejhy Barhany
Prep Cook Yield Ready In
15 minutes 35 minutes 4-6 50 minutes

Ethiopian Red Lentil Recipe (Messer Wot)

Classic Ethiopian comfort food.

This recipe for Messer Wot, or Spiced Red Lentils, comes to The Nosher from Tsion Cafe in Harlem. Read more about Tsion Cafe and its Ethiopian-Israel owner Beejhy Barhany


  • 2 cups red Lentil
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 white onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp *berbere spice (see below)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 4 cups water

For the berbere spice mix:

  • 1 cup chili powder or hot paprika
  • ½ Tbsp dried clove
  • 1 Tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • ½ Tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ Tbsp nutmeg
  • ½ Tbsp ground fenugreek seed
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp salt


  1. To make the berbere spice, sift and mix together all ingredients.
  2. Puree onions, garlic, ginger in food processor
  3. In a large pan sauté your onion, garlic, ginger in oil. Cook until softened, for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add tomato paste, ½ cup water, berbere spice, and salt. Cook for 15 minutes while stirring, reduce heat.
  5. Rinse lentils and add to pan; stir and bring to a boil; cover and simmer the lentils, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes until the lentils are soft. Add water as needed.
  6. Add salt to taste.
  7. Serve with Injera (Ethiopian flatbread) or Rice.

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