Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ethiopian Lentil Stew

Last night I was cold and tired, so I wanted something that was a) warm and heavy, and b) made with ingredients I had on hand. Some Googling led me to this recipe from Isa on PostPunkKitchen for Ethiopian Spicy Tomato Lentil Stew. I have never been to an Ethiopian restaurant, much less Ethiopia, but I had an Ethiopian Chickpea soup last month at the Soup Spoon Cafe and it was fantastic. The stew turned out delicious as well.

I didn't have every single ingredient, so I did some substituting, and I tweaked the recipe as I went along. The following recipe is a combination of what I did and what I will do next time. The main differences are: I cooked it a lot longer, used more spices, and substituted some ingredients. It's probably less authentic than the original, but I can't confirm. :) Feel free to try either one. This takes 45 minutes to make if you're organized, fast, and like things crunchy. I recommend letting it cook an extra hour if you have the time. I'll try it in the slow cooker next time and report back!

Ethiopian Lentil Stew (adapted from this recipe by Isa)
Serves 6-8

  • 1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion (or two medium), diced
  • vegetable oil or peanut oil (for cooking)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (or more... mmm)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (if you don't have this, use ground ginger in the spice blend)
  • 2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 lb canned diced tomatoes, drained (or 1 lb tomatoes, diced)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste (I actually used about 1/4 cup Prego tomato sauce)
Spice Blend: Just throw these in a small bowl and mix 'em up. You can probably make some for later, too!
(Note: I doubled the spices from the original recipe to make the flavors more intense. Use your judgment. )
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (ONLY IF NOT USING FRESH)
  • [1 teaspoon ground fenugreek] (I didn't have this and don't know what it is)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • [1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom] (If you don't have this, just skip it - I did)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (go easy)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot!)
  • salt to taste (1/2 tsp in the blend; add more at the table)
  1. Cook lentils for 45 minutes or so, until tender but not falling apart (instructions here). If the lentils are done before it's time to add them, remove from heat and drain. If you're making rice, you may want to get that started now too.
  2. While lentils are cooking, prepare your vegetables and mix the spice blend.
  3. Heat oil in a large stock pot. Add potato, carrot, and onion and saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add garlic, ginger, and spice blend. Stir well. Cook another 15 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock. Stir. Simmer.
  6. When the liquid starts bubbling, add the lentils (drain extra liquid from lentils first) and the frozen peas.
  7. Simmer at least until the peas are done (about 10 minutes). The longer you cook the stew, the more the flavors (and ingredients) will merge. Mine tasted much better after an hour, and fabulous the next day!
  8. Serve with rice, bread, pita, polenta, whatever you like. I ate mine with brown rice the first time, pita the next day.


  1. Katie this sounds super good!

    Definitely go to the ethiopian place by frandor, it's totally reasonable and the food is delicious (i recommend doing the vegetarian sampler)

    sarah dawn

  2. I also found this recipe for Moroccan chickpea stew - it looks similar. I'll have to try it: