International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Mesir Wat

Mesir Wat (Ethiopian red lentil stew)

(Ethiopian red lentil stew)

Image by Matthew Mendoza

Average: 4 (54 votes)

Mesir wat, or misir wat, is one of several types of bean or lentil stews that are served with Ethiopian meals. This spiced puree of red lentils is especially popular during fasting days and the meatless period of Lent.

Red lentils are called masoor dal in India and can be found in most Indian markets.

4 to 6 servings


  • Onions, chopped -- 2
  • Garlic, crushed -- 2 cloves
  • Gingerroot, peeled and minced -- 2 teaspoons
  • Oil, butter or niter kibbeh -- 1/4 cup
  • Paprika -- 2 tablespoons
  • Turmeric -- 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper -- 1/2 to 2 teaspoons
  • Red lentils, rinsed -- 1 pound
  • Water or stock -- 4 cups
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste


  1. Place the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender and puree. Add a little water if necessary.
  2. Heat the oil, butter or niter kibbeh in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium flame. Add turmeric, paprika and cayenne pepper and stir rapidly to color the oil and cook spices through, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the onion puree and sauté until the excess moisture evaporates and the onion loses its raw aroma, about 5 to 10 minutes. Do not burn.
  4. Add lentils and water to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until lentils are cooked through and falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add water if necessary to keep the lentils from drying out.
  5. Stir in salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Lentil Wat Variations

  • Shiro wat: Use split green peas instead of lentils. In Ethiopia, shiro wat is made with a premade mix of powdered green peas and spices. But as this mix is virtually impossible to purchase outside Ethiopia, split green peas are an acceptable substitute.
  • Substitute yellow lentils if you like.


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