Try Our Simple and Healthy Ethiopian Lentil Stew Tonight!

Have you ever tried Ethiopian cuisine? If not, now is the time to do so with this delicious vegan lentil stew recipe! Yemiser W’et, a spicy Ethiopian lentil stew, is a staple in Ethiopian cuisine and is enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike. I’m excited to share this recipe with you all because it has become a staple in my own household.

One of the things I love about Yemiser W’et is how easy it is to make. While the ingredient list may seem long, once you get everything prepped, the cooking process is simple. This stew also makes for great leftovers – I always make extra so that I can enjoy it throughout the week.

Not only is this dish easy to prepare and packed with flavor, but it’s also incredibly nutritious. Lentils are protein-rich and a good source of iron, making this stew a perfect meal for anyone following a plant-based diet. Plus, it’s a great way to add some variety to your weekly meal plan.

I learned how to make this dish from Terry Hope Romero’s cookbook “Vegan Eats World,” and have since made a few modifications to make it my own. Trust me when I say that once you try this recipe, you’ll want to keep making it over and over again.

So let’s get cooking and savor some delicious Ethiopian flavors with this vegan Yemiser W’et recipe!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vegan Yemiser W'et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew)
Vegan Yemiser W’et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew)

Are you on the hunt for a hearty and flavorful vegan stew? Look no further than this Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew, also known as Yemiser W’et. Let me tell you why you’ll love this recipe.

First of all, it’s made with dried brown lentils, which are packed with protein, fiber and essential nutrients. Not only are they nutritious, but they also hold up well in stews, making them the perfect addition to this dish.

Secondly, the combination of spices in this dish is simply divine. The berbere spice blend adds a depth of flavor that is both spicy and sweet. It’s a traditional Ethiopian blend that incorporates paprika, cumin, garlic, and other spices that lend themselves perfectly to lentil stew. Combine that with tomatoes, tomato paste, onions and garlic- Plus some Sweet Hungarian Paprika – and you have a symphony of flavors in each bite.

Thirdly, it’s versatile. You can serve it as a main dish or as part of an Ethiopian dinner menu filled with vegetable stews or soups. And don’t worry about having to cook the perfect sides – I’ll be providing some serving suggestions later on.

Finally, this recipe is easy to make! You don’t have to be a seasoned chef to whip up this delicious dish. All you need is a pot and some ingredients from your pantry. In no time, you’ll have a hearty meal perfect for any day of the week.

So there you have it – my top reasons why I know you’ll absolutely love this Vegan Yemiser W’et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew) Recipe!

Ingredient List

 A warm and spicy bowl of Yemiser W'et - perfect for cold weather!
A warm and spicy bowl of Yemiser W’et – perfect for cold weather!

Let’s talk ingredients! This vegan Yemiser W’et recipe features dried brown lentils and plenty of spices, giving it a deep and warm flavor typical of Ethiopian cuisine. Here’s what you will need:

Lentil Stew:

  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 2 cups water, plus more as needed to reach desired texture
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or Niter Kebbeh (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter)
  • Berbere spice blend (see recipe below)
  • Salt, to taste

Berbere Spice Blend:

  • 1/4 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Lentils, onions and garlic are the backbone of this stew while Niter Kebbeh adds that earthy flavor element typical of Ethiopian cuisine. The berbere spice blend is the key ingredient to any Ethiopian stew recipe; it provides the perfect balance between spicy and flavorful with hints of sweet brick-red.

The Recipe How-To

 This vegan Ethiopian lentil stew will transport your taste buds to Africa.
This vegan Ethiopian lentil stew will transport your taste buds to Africa.

Before starting, ensure you have all the ingredients mentioned in the Ingredient List section.

Step 1: Rinse and Soak Lentils

Place 1 cup of dried brown lentils in a large bowl and rinse them thoroughly under cold water. Then cover them with water and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

Step 2: Sauté Garlic and Onion

In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, heat up ¼ cup of niter kebbeh on medium high heat until melted. Once melted, lower the heat to medium and add the finely chopped 2 cloves of garlic followed by 1 cup of onion chopped, sautéing for about 5-7 minutes until they are soft.

Step 3: Add Spices

Add in your berbere spice blend, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, and sweet Hungarian paprika (according to your preference). Give it a good stir to combine.

Step 4: Add Tomatoes and Tomato Paste

Add diced tomatoes (or canned crushed tomatoes) into the pot, along with tomato paste. Mix everything well and cook until the mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally.

Step 5: Add Lentils and Water

Drain the soaked lentils, then add them to the pot along with about 4 cups of water or enough to cover the lentils by an inch. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils are softened.

Step 6: Add Green Peas

After the lentils have cooked through, add in green peas and stir gently. Allow it to simmer until heated through before seasoning with salt according to preference.

Step 7: Serve

You can serve this spicy Ethiopian lentil stew “Yemiser w’et” hot as is or with Injera (traditional Ethiopian bread) or white/brown rice.
Our creamy coconut milk adds extra richness to this lentil stew recipe if you’re looking for a creamier texture. If you’d like some more veggies in your meal, add sweet potatoes or green lentils as well making for a delicious soup or vegetable stew party.

Enjoy your vegan Yemiser W’et!

Substitutions and Variations

 With its rich and savory flavor, you won't even miss the meat in this Yemiser W'et.
With its rich and savory flavor, you won’t even miss the meat in this Yemiser W’et.

One of the best parts about cooking is how creative you can be with ingredients and recipes. If you’re missing an ingredient or looking to switch things up in this Vegan Yemiser W’et recipe, don’t worry! Here are some substitutes and variations to consider:

1. Lentils: While the recipe calls for dried brown lentils, you can also use other varieties such as green lentils or red lentils. Keep in mind that cooking times may vary depending on the type of lentil you choose.

2. Spiciness: If you prefer less spice, you can reduce the amount of berbere in the recipe or omit it altogether. On the other hand, if you’re a spice lover, feel free to add more berbere or another type of hot pepper.

3. Vegetables: While this recipe features tomatoes and green peas, you can also add other vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, or spinach to create a more hearty vegetable stew.

4. Coconut milk: To make this stew even creamier and richer in flavor, you can substitute some or all of the water with coconut milk.

5. Berbere Spice Blend: If you don’t have access to a pre-made berbere spice blend, you can make your own by combining spices such as paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, and cinnamon.

By experimenting with different substitutes and variations in this Vegan Yemiser W’et recipe, you’ll discover new flavors and textures that will add excitement to your mealtime. Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun in the kitchen!

Serving and Pairing

 Top with fresh cilantro and serve with injera bread for an authentic experience.
Top with fresh cilantro and serve with injera bread for an authentic experience.

Welcome to the best part! Serving and pairing the vegan Yemiser W’et recipe. This spicy and flavor-packed Ethiopian lentil stew is ideal for a cozy dinner party, a hearty lunch, or even a family dinner on weeknights. You can enjoy it on its own, or you can serve it with some delicious side dishes.

One of my favorite ways to serve this dish is by pairing it with injera bread. Injera is an Ethiopian flatbread that has a tangy and sour taste. The bread complements the lentil stew so well since its spongy texture soaks up the flavors from the stew perfectly. You will feel like you’re eating an authentic Ethiopian meal.

Of course, if you cannot find injera, any bread would do. You could try pita bread, naan bread, French bread or even rice as an alternative. Whatever you choose to serve it with, ensure that it’s slightly on the bland side so that it does not overpower the flavors of the stew.

When it comes to pairings, I recommend going for light and refreshing sides such as a simple mixed greens salad, roasted vegetables or some steamed green beans. These sides complement the hearty savory nature of the stew while adding some color and freshness to your meal.

You may also wish to experiment a bit and try pairing Yemiser W’et with sweet potato mash or coconut milk infused Alfredo sauce-based pasta.

Whether you are a seasoned vegan who eats ethically-conscious foods or trying Lentils for the first time, this vegan Yemiser W’et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew) recipe from Ethiopia will satisfy your culinary curiosity making your taste buds dance in excitement!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 This healthy and hearty dish is perfect for meal prepping and leftovers.
This healthy and hearty dish is perfect for meal prepping and leftovers.

When it comes to meal prep and planning, this Vegan Yemiser W’et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew) is a great option that can be made ahead of time and stored for later use. This recipe can easily serve a large gathering or be enjoyed as leftovers throughout the week.

To make this recipe ahead of time, prepare the stew as directed and let it cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

To reheat, simply transfer the stew to a pot and heat over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until heated through. For a quicker option, you can microwave individual servings until warm.

If you find the stew has thickened too much upon reheating, add 1/4 cup of water at a time, stirring until the desired consistency is achieved. Do not overheat or boil the stew as this may cause it to break down.

This dish pairs well with fluffy basmati rice or injera bread, so be sure to make enough of those as well!

Tips for Perfect Results

 You won't believe how easy it is to make this flavorful vegan stew.
You won’t believe how easy it is to make this flavorful vegan stew.

If you’re new to cooking Ethiopian cuisine, don’t worry. Even those experienced in the kitchen can learn a thing or two when preparing vegan Yemiser W’et. Here are some tips for good results every time.

First and foremost, experiment with the berbere spice blend to find your ideal level of heat. Although berbere is an integral component of this lentil stew, you have complete control over how much you use. Start with a small amount and gradually add more until you find the perfect balance of spice and flavor that suits your taste buds.

It’s essential to give the dried brown lentils enough time to cook thoroughly before adding the rest of the ingredients. Besides, if you want to eliminate carbohydrates, green peas can be substituted for sweet potatoes. To avoid making the whole dish too thick or runny, be certain to follow the recipe exactly and use precisely measured ingredients.

Another tip is to make niter kebbeh ahead of time since it must ferment for a few days before using it for cooking. Also, bear in mind that although red lentils can be substituted for brown lentils, they tend to lose their shape after cooking.

Lastly, although it isn’t mandatory, adding some coconut cream at the end would enhance the richness and overall flavor profile of the vegan Yemiser W’et. Remember that your goal is not only to create a delicious dish but also to enjoy yourself and possibly learn something new along the way!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Vegan Yemiser W’et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew) Recipe is a must-try for all foodies out there. This dish is perfect for those who are looking for a vegan-friendly meal that is both flavorful and filling.

With its combination of spices and ingredient list of green peas, tomato paste, sweet Hungarian paprika, ground cumin, berbere, garlic, onion, and dried brown lentils; you’ll be sure to savor every bite!

Not only is this dish packed with protein and fiber but it can also be customized to fit any dietary preference by substituting some ingredients or adding variations such as adding coconut milk, sweet potato or green lentils

Moreover this recipe offers a glimpse into African culture specifically the Ethiopian cuisine. As Terry Hope Romero said “vegan eats have the power to bring us closer together and teach us about each other’s cultures”. So why not take an adventure in your kitchen today by trying out this spicy Ethiopian lentil stew.

Lastly storing and reheating leftovers is super easy. You can store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to five days. You can also freeze it for reheating later.

In summary, this Vegan Yemiser W’et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew) Recipe will definitely spice up your dinner menu and offers you the opportunity to explore African culture. Give it a try and savor the taste of rest Africa right from your home kitchen!

Vegan Yemiser W'et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew)

Vegan Yemiser W’et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew) Recipe

You will need to first make niter kebbeh, berbere paste, and Injera bread (the one made of teff is the best!). Versions are available on the site. To serve, spread layers of injera bread on individual plates and pass more injera at the table. To eat, tear off pieces of injera, fold it around bits of stew and eat it with your fingers.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Ethiopian
Calories 153.4 kcal


  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup niter kebbeh (see recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon berbere
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or 1 cup water
  • 1 cup green peas
  • salt and pepper


  • Rinse and cook the lentils. While sauteing the onions and garlic in the niter kebbeh (see recipe) until the onions are just translucent.
  • Add the berbere, cumin, and paprika and saute for a few minutes more, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Mix in the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of vegetable stock or water and continue simmering.
  • When the lentils are cooked drain them and mix them into the saute. Add the green peas and cook for another 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 139gCalories: 153.4kcalCarbohydrates: 29.1gProtein: 9.5gFat: 0.7gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 137.6mgFiber: 10.2gSugar: 5.7g
Keyword < 4 Hours, African, Beans, Inexpensive, Lentils, One-Dish Meal, Vegan
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