Mesir Wat, an Ethiopian dish involving serious amounts of lentils, fiber, and joy

So I think mesir wat is my new favorite way to get fiber. Lentils are immensely high in fiber, along with a giant pile of other nutrients. See, we happened upon an Ethiopian grocery a few weeks back, whereupon I was struck with an overwhelming urge to buy a pound of red lentils. When trying to figure out the best way to ingest said lentils, I stumbled upon a recipe for mesir wat, and decided to have a go at it.

I grabbed the recipe from this website, and I will include my mildly hackneyed version of it here. First, here’s your ingredient list:

1 chopped onion
two cloves worth of garlic (I used garlic from a jar)
2 tsp or thereabouts fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup oil
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
about a tsp of chili powder
1 lb red lentils
Salt and pepper

I rinsed the lentils a few times and let them soak in a big pot of water for about 1/2 hour or so. Next, I dumped the first three into a blender with some water and pureed it (as I mostly use the blender for smoothies, I had to strongly resist the urge to taste this, and I am probably much better off for it). Anyhow, you get a large pan and heat the oil on medium, dumping in the paprika, turmeric, and chili powder. If you are British, use less chili powder. If you are Texan, add more chili powder. After 30 secs, dump the goo out of the blender and into the pan, sautéing for about 5 minutes. Then, dump in your lentils and several cups of water, mix, bring to a boil, and then let it simmer on low for about a half hour, checking occasionally to see if it needs more water. Add salt and pepper until appropriately salty and peppery. The result will hopefully look something like this:

Mesir Wat

It’s really really good, and goes well on rice. Had I more forethought I could have bought or made some injera, which is Ethiopian bread, but alas, forethought is not my forté. So I dumped some on flour tortillas, which was pretty good despite being bizarrely fusion food, I suppose.

I’ve only eaten Ethiopian food once before (that I can recall, at least), at a restaurant in DC. It was really good, and I’m glad I decided to try making some myself. I’m definitely making this again, as this recipe was simple, cheap, and made a metric ton of mesir wat. Drew and I got several meals out of it, and there’s still a container in the freezer for emergency purposes. And, incidentally, it’s an excellent way to use up paprika. To me, paprika is what goes on top of deviled eggs, and if I use it just for that purpose, I have enough to last me the next 5 years at least. So, it’s nice to expand my paprika repertoire, as it were.

Oh, and I have one more picture, the mesir wat, alongside some palak…chicken/paneer?

mesir wat + palak paneer/chicken

I was really ambitious that night, so I decided to also make some tomato-based palak paneer. While it was good, it was not as spectacularly delightful as the mesir wat. The downfall? No good cheese foresight. I was all like “Hey, I have muenster and Mexican cheese, that’s just like Indian paneer…right?” Alas, it was good, but wasn’t quite the same. In the horrors of realizing I didn’t have the proper cheese, I dumped in some last minute chicken, which helped a bit. One of these days, when I need Bonus Calories, I’ll have to try making some cream-based palak paneer. With the proper cheese. Or perhaps with tofu, which might counteract that whole “cream-based” thing.


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  1. Paul May 11, 2011 1:30 pm

    why less chilli if you are British? We cut our teeth on Indian food these days…………..

    • ptocheia May 15, 2011 8:13 pm

      Hmm, good point! That was me totally falling for the stereotype of “British Food = Bland” there.

  2. Anika Martin January 30, 2017 1:20 am

    Indian has lots of delicious food which is very popular over the world. This recipe is so easy to made. Anyone can try to cook their recipe at home. This is fully real and awesome food on the Indian traditional food list. I must try it at home. Thanks for the great share. Take care.

  3. Rush Essay July 13, 2017 4:03 am

    You have been really good at trying new things that are always meant to be new for me and I am glad upon that. It sure is good to have something healthy all the time when you are health conscious.