How to make it

  • The first thing you need to do, if you don't have berbere, is to make it. Toast the the cumin, whole cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, allspice, fenugreek, and coriander over medium heat until fragrant. This should take about two minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Take the dried chilies and remove their stems. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, finely grind the toasted spices and chilies. Once they are ground to a powder, add the remaining spices. This can be stored in a small bag or jar and keeps very well.
  • Now to the main recipe! Bring the lentils to a boil in 6 cups of the water and simmer for 20 minutes. When they are done, remove from heat and let sit.
  • In another pot, saute the onions until nicely browned. The longer and more slowly you carmalize the onions, the more developed the flavor will be.
  • Add the salt, berbere, tomatoes, tomato paste, and the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for around ten minutes.
  • Add garlic and the lentils, still in their water. If you want a thicker stew, drain off some of the cooking liquid from the lentils before adding it to the main dish.
  • Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. This stage is contingent on what you want the final texture of the dish to be -- cook more or less, depending.

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