Friday, July 16, 2010

Mesir Wat (Ethiopian Lentil Stew)

Mesir Wat [photo]

The experts will tell you that babies don't like spicy foods, so pregnant women are encouraged to avoid spicy foods, breastfeeding moms are warned to avoid garlic like the plague and moms of toddlers are told to prepare spice-less versions of the food they're eating for their young 'uns.

Pffft. It's clear these so-called experts haven't met our godson, 8 month-old B. Or perhaps he just didn't get the memo that he was supposed to shun all things spicy. Because when we baby-sat him earlier this week I had to stop him or he would've slurped up my entire bowl of Mesir Wat. In fact, when I made an attempt to extricate the bowl from his grubby little paws pudgy little hands, he made one last dive at the food to get more. (He was successful too - that kid'll go far) Hmmm, maybe my good taste is rubbing off on him? In which case: atta boy. Ah I love that kid.

I'm submitting this bowl of Ethiopian lentils to Regional Recipes, hosted by Joanne of Eats Well With Others, because, well, the theme for July happens to be Ethiopia. That girl's really got my back, because besides being spicy and mostly good-for-you, most Ethiopian dishes are also brilliantly frugal. Which, if you are a diligent reader, you'll remember is one of my goals for the next few months.

This lentil stew seems plain and (dare I say it?) boring at first sight, but as always, the added spices work their magic. This is somewhat similar to that stalwart of Indian cooking - dhal - yet decidedly different. The flavour is more subtle and if you're a bit shy to try exotic foods, this is a perfect gateway dish. Also, if you haven't tried Ethiopian food before, I strongly encourage you to give it a go. I think you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised.

(To my Western Cape readers, if you can't be fussed to make your own Ethiopian food, I strongly recommend Addis in Cape. Their set menu is incredibly good value for money I find the coffee & popcorn after-meal ritual quite charming)


Mesir Wat [photo]


Mesir Wat
Adapted from Ethiopian Recipes
Serves 6 - 8

1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
6 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp smoky paprika
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
500g red lentils
5 cups water

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add the onions and saute until soft and glazed looking.
2. Add tomato paste, paprika, garlic, ginger, pepper and salt and fry another minute to release the fragrances, then add 1 cup water and bring to the boil, cooking for another 2 - 3 minutes.
3. Add lentils, along with rest of water, bring to the boil, then turn down heat, cover and cook for another 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Serve warm with injera or flatbread of your choice.

Nutritional info (per serving): Calories 130.1, Total fat 2.4g, Saturated fat 0.3 g, Polyunsaturated fat 1.5 g, Monounsaturated fat 0.5 g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg, Sodium 441.7 mg, Potassium 481.5 mg, Total carbohydrate 21.2 g, Dietary fiber 7.2 g, Sugars 1.7 g, Protein 7.6 g
Good source of: Folate 34.9 %, Manganese 26.9 %, Iron 16.8 %

16 comments:

girlichef on July 16, 2010 12:22 am said...

GATEWAY DISH...LMAO!! Yeah, I know a few kids like that, too...my daughter being one. this looks delicious...I'm still trying to decide where to start my Ethiopian journey. Great inspiration =)

Colleen on July 16, 2010 12:27 am said...

Hehe...I also love the gateway dish!! My little 2yr old grandson is also into hot and spicey to the great amazement of his parents. Nothing can be hot enough for me ;o) This looks like a seriously to try dish for me. Thanx M...off to bookmark it for later trying. Sleep well xx

Umm Mymoonah on July 16, 2010 1:58 am said...

Wow! That's something similar to our dhal dish, looks really good.

Joanne on July 16, 2010 3:06 am said...

Your nephew sounds like an adorable handful! And it also sounds like he's got a pretty sophisticated palate....I see who he takes after.

This lentil dish sounds fantastic! I've always got your back chica. Thanks for the submission!

Jaya Wagle on July 16, 2010 8:53 am said...

Now I have to make this. This is the second post on Mesir Wat and I am tempted. Besides, I have all the ingredients, which is what makes me get up and cook. :)

I can see why your nephew liked this. I started feeding my four year old regular food when he started solids and he hasn't looked back on the spice level either.

FYI: I left a comment on your book review too.

Marisa on July 16, 2010 9:17 am said...

girlichef - There are so many awesome Ethiopian foods to choose from, I've already got another recipe up my sleeve which I will post about next week. Looking forward to see what you come up with!

Colleen - Do try it, it really couldn't be easier. Although if you enjoy hot & spicy you might want to up the smoky paprika in this one. :-)

Umm Mymoonah - Quite right, this remind me a lot of dhal (which I LOVE).

Joanne - Thank you for choosing such an interesting (and largely unexplored) cuisine! Watch out for my 2nd submission next week.

Jaya Wagle - I think we don't give kids nearly enough credit for their tastes - after all, why would they like only bland foods? Hope you enjoy this!

nina on July 16, 2010 11:45 am said...

Would love to wrap my frozen hands around a bowl of this winter warmer!!

Little Miss Linguistics said...

What do you think about using chicken/vegetable stock instead of water? Do you think it would detract from the other fragrant spices the recipe calls for? Just wondering...

Marisa on July 16, 2010 12:50 pm said...

Nina - This will definitely leave you feeling very satisfied. :-)

Little Miss Linguistics - I think stock would make a wonderful addition, just be careful that it doesn't end up too salty. I'd suggest using a vegetable stock and leaving the salt out.

Valerie on July 16, 2010 5:16 pm said...

Lentils are one of the many loves of my life! This looks fabulous. :D

Trish on July 17, 2010 4:16 am said...

Scrumptious!

Cindy on July 17, 2010 7:15 am said...

My husband has to eat lentils at least twice a week or he gets grumpy, this dish will be a winner in his books.

elrieta on July 19, 2010 10:15 am said...

Dit klink so maklik om te maak!

Kit on July 20, 2010 10:43 am said...

My girls like spices these days, thank goodness, Our son (the first baby) ate everything, including chicken korma baby food until he was 18 months, then went incredibly picky almost overnight. He's now the most conservative/picky eater in the family and the despair of my spicy cookingness.
I made dhal last night to go with leftover chicken korma. he ate rice and potatoes mashed together with a few pieces of chicken extracted from the sauce....
Luckily they are all well acclimatised to garlic and ginger, so I can go mad with those.
This looks like a lovely lentil dish. I'll have to try it once we've eaten up the dhal.

Sara on August 02, 2010 3:51 pm said...

Mmmmmm, I so need to try this! Looks super delicious!

Sweet Artichoke on August 02, 2010 11:05 pm said...

Thanks for your nice comment and I am glad to have discovered your great blog! There are so many delicious recipes and I definitely share lots of cooking interests with you!! The pictures are beautiful!
Your mesir wat looks amazing and tasty, can't wait to try more ethiopian food :-)

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