Ethiopian Lentil Stew with Penzeys Berbere Seasoning

As this blog kind of transitioned away from cooking stories – a mistake, and one we wish to correct – we haven’t talked quite as much about our favorite spice store, Penzeys. We have visited their locations in Memphis, Birmingham, and Atlanta (Sandy Springs), and completely love their products, their focus, and their amazing employees.

We get their quarterly catalog, which comes with a coupon and several recipes, and the spring edition introduced a new product, Berbere seasoning, and several ideas for things to prepare with this spicy mix. I sold Marie on the idea of what they call “Berbere stew” and popped by the local store for a jar of this new stuff, and a replacement jar of Bicentennial rub, which I really love on grilled chicken.

Marie adapted the recipe for this concoction from Penzeys’ original proportions (which you can see at their site) to feed our smaller family a Sunday supper. This might not seem like the most summery of dishes, but by chance, she’d also picked up a watermelon that weekend, and the hot and spicy lentil stew went just beautifully alternating bites with the crispy and cold watermelon.

Marie suggests that you presoak the lentils for an hour to get the best effect, or otherwise add an hour to the cooking time. The recipe calls for ham, but it can easily be left out for vegetarian kitchens.

Here is how Marie prepared it:

1 cup ham, diced
1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
5 cups water
3/4 cup Cups dried lentils or split peas
1 tsp. Berbere seasoning
6 fingerling potatoes , sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
salt, to taste

Place the ham chunks, onion and 4 cups of water in a medium to large soup pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Add the lentil or split peas and Penzeys Berbere seasoning and reduce heat to low. If you are using lentils, they are smaller and cook faster, so you can add the chopped potato and carrot along with them. If you are using green or yellow split peas, add them first and cook for 30 minutes before adding the other veggies.

Cook until the lentils/peas have pretty much dissolved and thickened the broth. Also, lentils can stick to the bottom of the pot so keep the heat low. Add more water as it cooks if it starts getting really thick. Different lentils and peas absorb more or less water, so it is difficult to give an exact amount. Some people like the stew more brothy as well, and some like to stop cooking before the lentils or split peas totally dissolve. Taste and add salt as desired before serving.

Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 1/2 hrs
Serves: 4

Let us know if you try this recipe or if you would like to see more cooking ideas. We also have another lined up for next week which we hope you will enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “Ethiopian Lentil Stew with Penzeys Berbere Seasoning

  1. I really have no business reading your blog when I can’t sleep….it just makes me HUNGRY! The Penzy’s in Sandy Springs isn’t too far from it and I need a few other things anywhere so I’m sooooo going to make this soon. Is the berbere spicy?

    1. It’s spicier than most of Penzeys seasonings, certainly. We’ve found them to be more flavorful than full of fire. You’ll have fun shopping here – it’s just north of the perimeter, and the staff is really terrific and helpful.

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