Misser Wot (Spicy Lentils) from Sheba’s Ethiopian Restaurant

by Danielle Bussone


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Misser Wot is an Ethiopian spicy red lentil dish. Sheba’s owner (Azeb Gide) and her chef (Adanech Hussen) shared their recipe for this wonderfully spicy and healthy dish. Unfortunately, Sheba’s is no longer in business. It’s a real shame for this was one of our all-time favorite restaurants.


1 large chopped onion

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 to 1/2 cup berbere

split red lentils

2 -3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic

cinnamon to taste


boiling water

ground black cardamom seeds


Before you begin cooking, be sure you have a kettle of boiling water on the side to add when you need it. Wash the lentils, rubbing them together in your hands, until the water is completely clear, no longer cloudy or foamy.

Cook  onion on medium-high heat, stirring constantly until translucent or slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil. The secret to the amount of oil is, you don’t want the oil to float but you want the onion to be shiny and change color but not stick. Add a small amount of cinnamon (optional).

Add water in small increments.  Add berbere and stir into onion mixture.  Add more water if needed.

Stir in garlic.

When the oil is separating from the onions it is time to add the lentils. Lentils tend to absorb water so add more of the boiling water when needed. The beans should have about 1/8 inch of water floating on top of the beans.  Salt to taste.

Lower heat and cook lentils, stirring every five minutes, until the lentils are done.  (About 15 minutes) Add a sprinkle of black cardamon seeds before serving.

Serve with Injera, Ethiopian flat bread.

Note from Danielle:  I have found numerous brands of bebere spice for sale on the internet. Amazon carries several. I make my own and have never tried any of these commercial brands.  The proportions of the ingredients of berbere vary but, essentially, it includes cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, cloves, black pepper, allspice, dried hot red chili powder (cayenne is fine), fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, ginger, turmeric, paprika and salt.



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