RECIPE: Yemiser W’et (Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew)

People & Culture

African Hotpot Lentils in Green Bowl

Yemiser W’et is a spicy Ethiopian lentil stew, which includes some traditional Ethiopian ingredients. A great way to get protein and warm up, this spicy dish can be served with crusty bread or in a traditional manner shown below – accompanied by injera.

Injera - Ethiopian Sourdough Flatbread, Ethiopia

A national food of Ethiopia, injera is a soft, spongy sourdough flatbread which is eaten with meat and vegetable stews. Traditionally, Ethiopians serve injera at all meals and eat it with their fingers, as they “scoop up” the stew in the bread.

Servings: 4


  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup niter kebbe*
  • 1 teaspoon berbere*
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, sweet hungarian
  • 2 cups tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 3 loaves injera bread
  • plain yogurt or cottage cheese


  • Rinse and cook the lentils.
  • Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in the niter kebbeh, 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 add them into the spicy mixture.
  • Add the green peas and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Add salt and black pepper to taste.

To serve Yemiser W’et, spread layers of injera on individual plates. Place some yogurt or cottage cheese alongside a serving of w’et on the injera.

*Ingredient Info
Niter Kebbeh:
Commonly used in Ethiopian cooking, niter kebbeh is similar to ghee (clarified butter), but is simmered in various spices before it’s strained, providing a spicy aroma.
Berbere: Berbere is a spice mixture which serves as a key ingredient in Ethiopian cuisines.

Church of St George_Lalibela, Ethiopia
Church of St George, Lalibela, Ethiopia

You can most probably find Yesimer W’et and other delicious Ethiopian dishes served, on our 32-Day Cape to Cairo tour, as Ethiopia is one of 8 countries visited on this ultimate Africa journey of a lifetime.

With only one departure per year, this exclusive, fully escorted, small group journey is presently being enjoyed by Goway’s president, Bruce Hodge, and his wife, Claire. Having started the middle of January, you can follow their personal travel blog, as they traverse through 8 countries, spanning the continent.

Travel Blog: Journey of a Lifetime – Cape to Cairo

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Food Venture in Ethiopia
Cape to Cairo: Our President’s Journey of a Lifetime