Ethiopian Yellow Split Peas with Kale & Spicy Red Lentils


I’m not sure if I’ve said this already, but I really LOVE Ethiopian cuisine. Okay, maybe I did tell you in an earlier post [HERE], but I can’t express my crazy addicted love for it enough. One thing I like best is that the vegetarian dishes, which are vegan when omitting the spiced butter or substituting with vegan cheese in the salad, are just as yummy as the meat dishes.

So below I present to you Misir Wot and Kik Alicha, two dishes I like to cook side by side. While split peas may be a dish you hated as a child, know that these are the delicious gourmet kind, cooked in a lovely turmeric onion sauce. I added kale because there’s a lot growing in my garden, and it’s always fun to add extra greens when possible. But who doesn’t love spicy red lentils? Misir Wot’s flavors are actually really similar to Doro Wot (Chicken in a Berbere Sauce with Hard Boiled Eggs), and you won’t miss the lack of meat at all.

What about the protein content, you might ask? Oh, that’s right. The protein in split peas is highly absorbable and red lentils aren’t half bad! Combine them with injera, which is made from the Teff, and your amino acid profile is even more complete. Plus, by eating legumes, you’re upping your fiber, folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium intake, while lowing your intake of saturated fat! Eating yummy legumes like these will go a long way to lead you to good health.

Are you ready for the recipes yet? I’m already hungry for these dishes again, even though I only devoured them a few hours ago! Don’t forget to visit my earlier post link above for tips on acquiring some of the ingredients and making your own injera!


Misir Wot, Spicy Ethiopian Lentils

Time: 1 Hour
Serves 4

2 yellow onions, finely minced
2 tbsp garlic (5-7 cloves), minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
½ cup olive oil
3 to 5 tbsp berbere spice mix (less for mild)
½ cup diced or crushed tomatoes
1 cup dried red lentils, sorted and rinsed
4 cups water
½ tsp Ethiopian Cardamom
½ tsp salt
1 tsp Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian spiced butter), optional
4 to 5 Injera rounds (Ethiopian bread), for serving

Heat a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and sweat without oil and being careful to not over-stir, for about 10 minutes. Cook onions until golden brown, lowering heat if necessary. Stir in garlic and ginger and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add olive oil and berbere, and sauté over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture reaches a paste consistency.

Stir in tomatoes, lentils, and ½ cup water to the onion mixture and bring to a simmer. Over a 15-minute period, add about ½ cup of water every 2 minutes, until all 4 cups of water are absorbed. Lower heat and cover, simmering about 10 minutes longer. Add cardamom and salt.

Test the lentils for doneness. Continue to cook about 10-20 minutes longer, until lentils are soft, but not overcooked. Remove from heat and serve over injera!


Kik Alicha with Kale

Adapted from Ethiopian Fire & Spice by Fetlework Tefferi
Time: 1 Hour
Serves 4

2 cups yellow split peas, sorted and rinsed
1 cup yellow onions, chopped
1/3 cup hot water
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp ginger, minced
½ tsp Alicha Kimem, optional
½ tsp turmeric
½ bunch kale, sliced into 1-inch strips
2 tbsp garlic (5-7 cloves), minced
4 to 5 spices Injera (Ethopian bread), for serving

Soak split peas in hot water for 15 minutes.

Sweat onions on low heat in a covered saucepan for 2 minutes. Do not over-stir. Add 1/3 cup of hot water, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add water and olive oil, and sauté for 3 minutes longer.

As the water evaporates, continue to make sure the onions do not dry up or change color. Add ¼ cup hot water, 1 tbsp ginger, and a pinch of the turmeric. The sauce should have a soup like consistency. Keep covered and continue to cook for 4 minutes.

Add the split peas and mix well into the sauce. Add 2 cups of hot water, cover, and cook. After about 2 minutes, when the split peas are tender, add alicha kimem for additional flavor. Add garlic and the remaining 1 tbsp ginger. Stir the peas, scraping the bottom of the pan to avoid sticking. Add water as needed. Add remaining turmeric, reduce heat to medium. Cover and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, until the peas are tender. Stir frequently, ad make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.