Dinner in 45: Senite’s Vegan Ethiopian Red Lentils

If you are a frequent visitor of my store, you surely know Senite. She has a deep, beautiful laugh, drop dead eye make up, a head full of energetically curly hair and always asks after your family. Senite is known for her lunches, and if she ever catches you staring at one of her homemade treats, you’ll find yourself with half, at her insistence.

Back in March I asked Senite to put her food voodoo to work for charity. She agreed, making the most seductive lentils I can remember for a Whole Planet Foundation fundraiser, and I’ve been craving them since.

It is so easy, she told me when I asked how to make it at home, as people do of food they’ve been cooking their whole lives. You just cook some onion, and garlic, and ginger and add lentils, then berbere, and, and, and. Uh….hold up. Let me grab a pen.

She rattled off a few tips and I cross referenced a few online resources eventually ending up here- with lentils the whole family can eat (though the bean prefers her mixed with some sweet potatoes).

Is necessary to trek out to your city’s Ethiopian Market for in berbere?  Yup. You won’t find it at your average grocer, and while you can make it, checking out the Merketo will afford you the chance to pick up Injera*, the spongy, slight sour national bread of Ethiopia along with cheap spices, nuts, and awesome Ethiopian pop CDs!! Dance Party!

Ethiopian Markets in Portland include Merkato on MLK and almost right across the street Awash Market. And in Seattle, Zuma, and Amy’s Merkato.

This dish comes together incredibly fast, from cutting board to table you’ll be eating in less than an hour. Pair with a simple green salad of spinach, sliced red onion, avocado, and sliced almonds for a complete meal. I recommend beer with this dish, but if any of my wine friends have suggested pairings for Ethiopian food, please let me know!

Senite’s Misr Wat

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 onion- peeled and grated.

1 1″ piece of ginger, minced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Berbere- pick up at an Ethiopian Market

1 cup red lentils, washed and drained

4 cups water

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Oh, please don’t hate me but yes, you really have to grate those onions, you do. Well, you can throw them in the food processor too. Here’s why. They need to melt, melt into those lentils.

Heat the olive oil in the pan, and add that mess of onions. Cook, stirring, careful not to brown over medium heat just long enough to take the sting out of your eyes. Add the minced ginger and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes or so, until those aromatics make their presence known. Add the berbere and mix to combine, waiting just a minute or so before adding the lentils. Give them a good stir to incorporate into the onion mixture. Stir in the water and tomato paste and increase the heat to high. Bring mixture to a boil the reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes. Remove lid, and give the lentils a good stir. Add salt and adjust seasonings if needed.

Spoon onto a plate lined with Injera or just eat out of a bowl.

Injera* Unless you’re feeding 10 people, you’ll end up with a bundle of injera that is more than you’ll need, but, yay!, you can freeze it!

Senite instructed me to cut the rounds in half, and roll each one into itself like a scroll, then wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap, and finally in aluminum foil. To thaw, simply remove it from the freezer and allow to sit out on the counter for at least an hour. Unwrap and warm in the microwave by placing the rolls on a plate, covering with plastic wrap and microwaving for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

1 comment
  1. Marsha said:

    Looks yummy and Ella looks happy, what more could a mom ask for!

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