Mesir Wat as it is called in Ethiopia or Tsebi Mesir as it is called in Eritrea, is a lentil stew made with the famous berbere seasoning and niter kibbeh. The Orthodox Christians and the Muslims have restrictions on when they can eat meat so this is a go to dish, found all over both countries. It is a delicious vegetarian meal.
Oil can be substituted for the niter kibbeh. Mesir wat should be made in a cast-iron skillet, do not use a non-stick pan as you want the lentils to stick to the bottom of the pan for a wonderful scalding flavor and texture.
Mesir Wat is typically served with other wats (stews) and always with Injera, a sour, spongy, bread. Injera is often served underneath the mesir wat used almost like a plate, however, when you get to the bottom, it makes an extra special bite as the injera has soaked up the juices from the mesir wat.
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Mesir Wat (Lentil Stew)
A quintessential dish from Ethiopia and Eritirea
- 4 Tablespoons niter kibbeh or oil
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3 tablespoons berbere
- 1 teaspoon salt
- sugar to taste
- Heat the pan (don't use non-stick) over medium heat with just the onions in it.
- Sweat out some of the moisture for several minutes while stirring constantly.
- Once they become translucent add in the niter kibbeh or oil and saute a few more minutes, add in the garlic and saute a bit more.
- Add in the cardamom and berbere as well as a few tablespoons of water. Reduce the heat and continue to stir for about 10 minutes. (add water to avoid sticking if necessary)
- Add 1/4 cup of water and the lentils. Saute, stirring constantly until the water is absorbed. You want to let the lentil scorch a bit at the bottom of the pan, but not burn, and you scrape them up and stir. Continue adding water 1/4 cup at a time until the lentils are fully cooked and you have a nice wat consistency. Adjust the seasoning adding salt and sugar to taste.
- Serve with Injera.