Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ethiopian Spiced Lentils

Ethiopian food is among my favorite.  The common berbere spice mix which is used in so many of their dishes works so well with such a great variety of vegetables and meats.  I especially like the spice mix in Ethiopian lentils. Onions, ginger, garlic, cardamon and nigella seeds are added into the mix to give this dish its distinctive flavors.

For a purely vegetarian version, substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth or simply use water.  

Servings: 3-4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Active Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Special Ingredients: Berbere Spice Mix -- can be found in African Specialty stores or purchased on the web (available on To make this spice combination from scratch, I recommend Marcus Samuelsson's Berbere Spice Recipe.


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Red Onion finely chopped
4 Garlic Cloves minced
1 Inch Ginger peeled and minced
1 Tablespoon Berbere spice mix
1/2 Teaspoon Nigella Seeds grounded
2 Cardamom Pods
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Cup Red Lentils
1.5 Cups Chicken Broth

In a large saucepan, place the olive oil over high heat.  Once the olive oil begins to shimmer add in the onions and sauté until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the ginger, garlic, berbere spice mix and nigella to the pot. Sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Pour in the lentils, chicken broth and cardamon pods into sauce pan.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, stir and bring the pan to a boil.   Reduce the heat to a low gentle simmer.  Cover and let cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked (lentils should be tender and no longer crunchy). Remove the cardamon pods from the pot and discard.  
Using a slotted spoon, scoop the cooked lentils into small bowls to serve.  You can garnish the dish with some chopped parsley.  Enjoy.

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