Ethiopian-Style Spicy Lentils

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I tapped into my Ethiopian heritage yesterday and made these Ethiopian-Style Spicy Lentils. They are very close to the spicy lentils I remember eating in Ethiopia, but not quite as spicy. They are also missing the exceptionally delectable Ethiopian spiced butter. One of these days I will make the butter. But until then, this tasty recipe will do.

Two essential ingredients for this recipe are yellow onions and the Ethiopian berbere. The yellow onions are easy to find of course. The Berbere is a hot pepper based spice blend which can be purchased at an Ethiopian grocery store or online.  Amazon even sells organic berbere!


It is often labeled ‘Ethiopian chili spice’, although the correct Ethiopian name for it is ‘berbere’ (pronounced with rolled r’s. ) It is a blend of spices unique to Ethiopian cuisine.



1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 T. olive oil

1 bulb garlic, minced (that’s 7-8 garlic cloves ya’ll!)

3 rounded teaspoons Ethiopian berbere

2 cups lentils

4 cups water

2 t. salt



Sautee onions in olive oil on low heat for 20 minutes (or until onions are soft. )

Add minced garlic and sautee until fragrant.

Add berbere and sautee for another minute or two on high heat.

Add lentils, water, and salt.

Simmer on low heat for 1 hr. or until lentils are soft and a thick consistency.

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