Friday, September 18, 2009

Mesir Wat - Ethiopian red lentil puree

Ethiopian cuisine is very distinct from most African cuisine. It uses many spices that are found in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. My first Ethiopian restaurant encounter was in New Brunswick, NJ about 3 years ago. The restaurant is called Makedas and it has a great atmosphere with seating on wicker furniture and all the the food is served on a large piece of Injera (bread) on a large plate. The food was great, the bread reminded me of South Indian Dosa and many of the vegetable and lentil dishes taste very familiar. There are so many vegetarian dishes to choose from, Ethiopian cuisine is vegetarian friendly since many Ethiopians fast due to religion and during that time they do not eat meat. I finally picked Mesir Wat, a red lentil dish (masoor dal). I got the basic recipe from I made a few modifications. I also used more niter kibbeh sauce than the original recipe asked for. I love the aromas from this spicy butter sauce. I would like to enter to this to the 15th My Legume Love Affair, Susan's event.

Servings: 6

2 red onions
1 cup of green beans
1 cup of carrots
3-4 garlic cloves
pinch of ginger powder
1 cup of niter kibbeh (click on the link for the recipe)
1 tbsp of Indian chili powder (mild chili powder)
1 tsp turmeric
1 lb of red lentils
2 cans of vegetable stock (4 cups)
salt and pepper to taste

optional: type of bread or rice

Make the niter kibbeh. This spicy butter sauce needs to simmer on low for about an hour. Strain the niter kibbeh into a large pot through a steel colander (a steel tea strainer works well). Using a food processor puree the onions. Add the niter kibbeh, onion puree, turmeric, chili powder, pressed garlic cloves, green beans, carrots and ginger powder. Let this simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, stir and allow to simmer on low-medium for 5 minutes. Add the red lentils and cook for 30 minutes. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Injera bread, if you cannot make or do not have access to this bread,v you can eat this with wheat tortilla, Indian bread, pita bread or any type of rice.