Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ethiopian Berbere Stew

I love lentils (did you know in the UK they call them pulses?). There is this wonderful restaurant that used to be in Trapper's Alley in downtown Detroit. When the casino moved in, the Blue Nile moved out. I haven't been back since except on marathon day as part of the race ran thru Trapper's Alley. The Blue Nile is now in both Ann Arbor and Ferndale.

So they made these small side dishes with lentils. Until I went there years ago, I didn't know lentils came in any color but the bland brown ones most of us know. The entire dinner is served on a tray in the middle of the table covered with Injera bread-which you use as a scoop for food. You are not given forks or spoons.

I decided to try and make the Berbere stew that is so aromatic. But I had to make it vegetarian. Here is the recipe for the spices I used. Most ingredients are readily available at a quality grocery or see if you have an Indian or Middle Eastern grocery locally. Also try Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.

Berbere Spice

1 Tbs. ground cardamom
1 Tbs. ground coriander
1 Tbs. fenugreek
1 Tbs. ground nutmeg
1 Tbs. ground cloves
1 Tbs. ground allspice
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 Tbs. paprika
1 Tbs. turmeric
1 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbs. ground black pepper
1 Tbs. ground sea salt

Store in a cool, dark place.

You can use this spice as a rub or for soups or rice.
Naan from the bakery (it was a bit dry so I drizzled a melted margarine/olive oil mix that was laced with roasted garlic infusion). I am not happy with my home-made Naan recipe yet. Naan can also be purchased from Trader Joe's fr0zen food section and is my fav as it comes in several flavors and each bag is only $1.99. What a deal! As a side dish, I cut up fruit-pineapple, papaya and pears. I topped this with ground cinnamon. Yum!

Mix lentils with water, garlic, onion, and spices. Cook, uncovered over medium-low heat, for 20 minutes until the lentils are soft and puffy. Add water as needed to cover. Add the tomatoes and heat 10 more minutes on simmer.This is good ladled in bowls or over whole grains like brown rice.

I wanted a more hearty bowl-so instead of adding beef or lamb as many recipes suggested, I decided to add extra firm cubed tofu for protein. I also added some boiled sliced carrots (I wanted squash but was in a hurry) and at the last minute in went some boiled, diced with skins Yukon Gold potatoes.
I served this fairly spicy dish with garlic
I have a whole pot left over and almost gave it away. Glad I will have leftovers this weekend. And my house smells incredible hours later too!
And for those of you who want to watch Naan being made, view this video.

So the recipe I made is as follows:
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup brown lentils
2 1/4 cups water
1 garlic clove, crushed
2-3 Tbsp. berbere spice mixture, above
1 28-ounce jar diced tomatoes


  1. This looks and sounds delish Jan!
    I love lentils too, and frequently make a Turkish red lentil apricot soup. I've used green lentils in the past too, and they are just as yummy, but the red are smaller and cook SO much faster. Yellow dhal is a staple in our home!

  2. Anonymous11:00 AM

    We don't call them pulsers!


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