Shelby and I recently explored Ethiopia. More precisely we explored her kitchen. We set out on a Sunday adventure that delivered us to Desta Ethiopian Kitchen, a highly favored restaurant here in Atlanta. We sampled many, many dishes and decided our favorite of all was the red lentil stew or Miser Wot.
It’s been a couple months since the taste of this spicy stew first tickled my tongue. I remembered the flavor as rich, with warm heat that made you pause for just a minute before reaching for more. All of the dishes we sampled that day were ‘spicy’ as in layers of spice flavor….and most delivered heat as well. I’ve grown to really love spicy cuisine and that’s coming from a girl who for most of her life didn’t even put pepper on food. I attribute this taste bud transformation to hormones :) I’m quite okay with it.
Back to Miser. I knew this would be the first dish I would want to try my hand at recreating. The first thing I discovered were all the Ethiopian spelling variations (miser, misir, mesir, wat, wot, wet). I did a suitable amount of recipe research, all of which told me I must first begin with berbere seasoning. Thanks to last year’s Winter Thyme Spice Exploration, I have a nice collection of spices and was able to make the berbere from what I had on hand. I did make a couple substitutions which you’ll see in my Berbere Seasoning recipe post.
The dish combines the aromatic flavors of onion, garlic, and fresh grated ginger, sautéed in oil. The stew comes together with the addition of the berbere seasoning, diced tomatoes, red lentils, and broth (or water).
I’ve seen recipes that call for precooking the lentils for about 30 minutes before incorporating them into the stew. Instead I chose to cook them with the seasoned aromatics, adding additional broth as needed, which infused the flavors so nicely throughout the dish. This method also allowed me to keep a little lentil texture instead of them melting away completely.
I knew I wanted to add a little something special to this dish. Traditionally it is served with injera, a spongy flatbread. However my injera making skills are non-existent.
If you’ve been following our recipes you may have picked up on my love for eggs, especially baked eggs. This stew seemed like the perfect vessel so I nestled in a couple eggs and finished the dish in the oven. Miser Wot with Baked Eggs was a delightful brunch and reheated nicely the next day.
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth, divided
- 3 Tbl. olive or vegetable
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes or two medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1½ Tbl. berbere seasoning (see recipe link in post)
- ½ tsp. salt or to taste
- 1 good handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 3 or 4 eggs
- Rinse lentils for 1-2 minutes or until water drains clear.
- In a medium skillet, sauté onion in oil until tender, 8-10 minutes.
- Add in garlic and ginger and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle in berbere seasoning and stir to combine. Then add in tomatoes, lentils and one cup of broth. Simmer covered on low over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.
- Gradually add additional broth as needed and continue cooking until lentils are soft, but not mush; approx. 15-20 more minutes. The stew should be moderately thick but not dry.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer lentil mixture to an oven proof serving dish. Stir in chopped cilantro leaves. Use spoon to make a 3-4 wells. Crack an egg into each well. Bake for 15-20 minutes until egg whites are set.
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