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Red Lentils in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

ye’misser wot be’timatim(Ethiopian, vegan)*


1 cup dried red lentils 

5 cups water

1 red onion, (2 cups) diced

1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. peeled grated fresh ginger

1 tsp. ground coriander

OPT: 1/2 tsp. Ye-wot Qumem 

1/8 tsp. ground cardamom

4 Tbsp. ground Berbere (You can buy this at a spice store)

1 Tbsp. mild paprika

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 tomato, diced (1 cup)

2 cups reserved lentil cooking water or vegetable stock


Put the lentils and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir occasionally to keep the lentils from sticking. Turn down to a simmer and cook uncovered 8-10 minutes—until the lentils are tender but firm. Skim off any foam from the top. Drain the lentils but reserve the water.


Put the onion in a large, dry saucepan and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring to prevent sticking, until the onion has released it’s liquid and is soft—about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the olive oil, scraping any onion that may be sticking. Cover and cook about 10 minutes until the onion is very soft and starting to brown, but not burning. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, Ye’wot Qimem if using, and the cardamom. Cook while stirring for 1 minute.


Add the berbere, paprika, tomato paste and stir constantly for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato and 2 cups of the lentil water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently until the sauce has thickened slightly and the onions and tomatoes are breaking down—about 5 minutes.  Stir in the lentils and more water as needed.


Cover and simmer gently 5-10 minutes. Salt to taste,


*Recipe is from Teff Love by Kittee Burns









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