Misir Wat (Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)

I was craving lentils today so I decided to make misir wat. Misir wat is an Ethiopian lentil stew that is easy to make and has an incredible depth of flavour. Lentils are also nutritious. They’re a great source of protein, fiber, iron (which I really need), folate, and vitamin B6. If you’re a vegetarian or if you’re like me and like to have meatless meals during the weekdays, then this is a great dish to have in your meal rotation.

To make misir wat, you’ll need niter kibbeh which is a spiced clarified butter. I have posted my recipe for niter kibbeh here. You’ll also need berbere spice which you can probably find at an African grocery store or on Amazon (disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Amazon or the recommended product). You can also make your own (recipe here). Berbere spice is a hot spice blend so use less than the amount that I’ve listed in this recipe, if you want a milder stew. You can also use more tomato paste than I’ve listed in the recipe to make the stew less spicy. Misir wat is often served with injera or rice. The instructions for making this stew are on the recipe card below. I’ve slightly changed the recipe from when I first posted it to enhance the flavour of the stew. Enjoy!

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4.91 from 10 votes

Misir Wat (Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)

Misir wat is a delicious and nutritious Ethiopian lentil stew. It uses simple ingredients and is a great meal to have on busy weeknights.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time52 mins
Total Time1 hr 2 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: African
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 230kcal
Author: Mavis K.


  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 2 medium onions (minced; you can use red or yellow onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tsp ginger (minced)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp niter kibbeh
  • 1 tbsp berbere spice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • cups vegetable broth (you might need to add more broth depending on how thin you want the stew to be)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 sprigs cilantro (for garnish)


  • Coarsely chop the onions and use a food processor to mince the chopped onions.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the niter kibbeh over medium heat.
  • Add the onions, garlic and ginger, and cook for 15 minutes or until the mixture turns to a puree. Turn the heat to low once the mixture starts to boil and stir the mixture while it's cooking to prevent burning.
  • Add the black pepper and all the other spices, cook for 1 minute; continue to stir the mixture to prevent burning.
  • Wash the lentils with water in a sieve over the sink. Add the lentils, tomato paste, broth, and salt to the onion mixture in the pot. Mix the ingredients together. Turn the stove to medium heat, cover the pot and bring the stew to a boil.
  • Once the stew starts to boil, turn the heat to low and let the stew simmer on low heat for 35 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the broth is reduced to your liking. Gently stir the stew occasionally as it cooks and add more broth if the stew gets too thick for your liking.
  • Serve with injera or rice.


For a quicker cook time, I usually soak the lentils in water while I'm getting the other ingredients ready for the meal. This usually amounts to about 15 minutes of soaking the lentils in water.


Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 797mg | Potassium: 633mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 875IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 5mg

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  • Reply
    May 13, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    How much Berbere should I add if I would like it mild? I am not good with too hot and spicy but I love mild spices.

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      May 13, 2021 at 11:28 pm

      Hi Maryanna,

      It depends on how spicy the berbere spice you’re using is as different brands/recipes have different levels of spiciness. If you’re using my recipe for berbere spice, 1 teaspoon of it will give you a mild level of spiciness with this recipe; the recipe as is has a medium level of spiciness for me, although I have family members that would describe it as mild. Since, what’s mild for me might be different for you, I’d advise you to take a little bit of the berbere spice and taste it before you add it to the stew. Doing that will help you to decide how much of it you should add to the stew.

  • Reply
    March 21, 2021 at 10:26 pm

    5 stars
    I love this dish at restaurants and wanted to find a recipe I can make at home. This one is easy and yields great results. I couldn’t find niter kibbeh so I just used plain ghee and it turned out great. Very delicious, light and satisfying. It has become a staple in my recipe rotation. Big fan of your recipes!

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      March 21, 2021 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad that the recipe turned out well for you. Ghee is a good substitute for niter kibbeh, which can be difficult to find in stores. I do have a recipe on here for making niter kibbeh at home (click here for the recipe link), if you’d like to give it a try at some point. It’s very easy to make and uses ingredients that you’ll normally find in stores.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    5 stars
    We have lentils quite frequently. Usually soup. I loved making the lentil stew. I even make the injera, my favorite.
    The lentils take about 30 minutes as to cook. Such an easy meal and so easy and nutritious. We enjoy Ethiopian cuisine and make or order it frequently.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Ethiopian cc
    Thank you for sharing. I am Assuming you don’t sell or give away the email addresses. Please don’t

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      March 2, 2021 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Ann,

      The system collects email addresses as part of spam prevention. WordPress websites get quite a lot of spamming attempts, so I take every precaution to block them. I don’t sell or give away email addresses. Your privacy is protected. I’m glad that you enjoyed the misir wat. Ethiopian food is delicious.

  • Reply
    Sue Walter
    February 2, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe tastes exactly like the spicy red lentils at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant. We had Ethiopian take out the other night and had a bunch of extra injera. That inspired me to try to make these myself to eat with it. This recipe was spot on and so delicious. I ordered Berbere spice on Amazon which made it very easy to prepare. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      February 3, 2021 at 10:14 am

      Thanks for your feedback, Sue. I’m really glad to hear that you loved the recipe and it’s as good as that of your favourite Ethiopian restaurant. Take care!

  • Reply
    Kim Vogt
    January 27, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Are you sure the salt count is correct? I have to watch my sodium but this sounds delicious. I only see stock and added salt and pepper as sodium contributors?

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      January 27, 2021 at 3:36 pm

      Hi Kim,

      The nutritional information is an estimate generated by the recipe card. Because this recipe includes salt “to taste”, the sodium will depend on how much salt you end up adding to get the flavour of the dish to your liking. The amount of sodium that is given on the recipe card doesn’t include the salt “to taste”, just the sodium that’s in the stock and any of the other ingredients. Since, you have to watch your sodium intake, my advice would be to make the dish with just the stock and see how it tastes. If it tastes flat, you can add a pinch of salt to improve the taste, but use your judgment and not add more salt than you should have. You can also use low sodium stock and not add anymore salt, if the sodium in the recipe is already too high for you. I hope that helps.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    5 stars
    I had never had this before and I love exploring new recipes! Great depth of flavor. My lentils cooked in only about 20 minutes. Thanks for sharing! I love the turmeric flavor with the red lentils.

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      January 14, 2021 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience with the recipe, Maddie. I’m glad that you enjoyed it.

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