Wild things and the perfect Misir Wot

Before we get to the wot, I need to paint a few mental pictures. Today Tsega, two years old, arranged a safety pad of pillows around the couch, and from the highest point on the arm, he stood perfectly balanced, knees bent, arms out and ready like the guys on the high diving platform, and alternated catapulting forwards, or, jumping blind launching backwards into the couch cushions as far as he could, adding twists as he got braver. Watching him make up games like this is stressful, and as I told a friend tonight who saw him at it again, "I don't know how I can put a stop to this kind of thing." She said wisely, "I don't think you can."

Speaking of life threatening, Brady, also two, has learned terrible things from his brother. Even though they share a room at night, the boys nap in separate rooms so they won't play because heaven knows I need them to nap or I will be totally incapable of functioning. Apparently I put Brady's pack n' play too close to Samantha's bunk bed because somehow, he was able to get ahold of the cross beams and haul himself up and out of the crib. I found him up on the top bunk, sobbing, unable to get down today when he should have been asleep. Brady has learned to jump without looking and to go without thinking from Tsega, but lacks the skills to keep himself safe. They are driving me totally nuts. Someone, please tell me how to get this memo across to my Destruction Duo:

Hubs and I are reading this bookto try and help us deal with keep alive nurture the boys and it is disconcerting to read; like the authors are spying on our family. It is insightful and also very creepy how much they talk about my every day life. I had no idea other people live like this, with the raging little boy testosterone and what not. If you have one boy or three, this book is chock full of wisdom.

And speaking of my boys, Hubs has been getting snobby about his Ethiopian food. The last time I made it, he actually declined because it wasn't authentic enough. This would have bugged me more if he hadn't been right. It lit a fire under me to practice, do more searching and fine tune my preparation. My biggest challenge has been with the dish misir wot, a spicy lentil stew that is truly heavenly when done right.

Finally, I located a recipe and saw a online video tutorial that made all the difference. I combined the different tips and tonight was delighted to share the most perfect misir wot I've ever created with friends and now, you. Though I can't send you leftovers, I will give you the recipe and some of the tips. Even all written down, I must admit, there is an art to it. You have to be willing to own Ethiopian food. Like, if the time I wrote seems too long or too short or it needs a little more oil or salt, you kinda have to develop an instinct and go for taste and texture over obedience to the recipe card. Practice definitely helps. I was trying to do that before, but within the framework of this recipe, trusting my gut now seems easier. I hope it brings you there as well.

Print the recipe PDF here:
Misir Wot, Ethiopian Spicy Lentil Stew
 Ingredients: 2 onions yellow or red, finely minced (food processor is easiest), 3-5 cloves minced garlic (or 2 tbps), 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger, 3-4 tbsp berbere, ½ cup – 2/3 cup crushed tomato (from can), 1 cup dried red lentils, ½ cup vegetable oil, 4 cups water, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp cardamom. Please note, this stuff is hot. And ye'taftal! (yummy!)
 Directions: Get all those ingredients pre-minced and measured before you start. (esp the water, as you will add it in bits and it’s hard to keep track of how much you’ve put in. measure it out in a bowl and take some as needed.)  Heat stew pot over medium heat. Add minced onions dry, no oil in pan. Stir and cook for 5-6
minutes, add in garlic and ginger. Saute sans oil another few minutes. Add oil; after 1 min. stir in berbere.
Simmer, stirring often for 15-20 minutes, should resemble a paste. If starting to get too thick/stick, add a
little water from the bowl you premeasured, no more than ¼ cup. Add in tomato. Rinse lentils in fine mesh
colander under hot water.  Add lentils to onion, cook while stirring for ten minutes. Add water ½  cup at a       
time over next 15 minutes. Once water is all added, lower heat and let simmer with lid on, stirring
occasionally another 10 minutes. Test the lentils, you want it to be  just a bit softer than chewy, not too
mushy. Towards the end of cooking add in salt and cardamom. Some Ethiopian cooks also add another  
dash of garlic powder, so go for it if you want. While cooking the oil will rise to the top. Stir it all in. Let
cool for a few minutes and serve with injera. Pita will work if you are desperate. Eneblah!
(Amharic for Let’s eat!)
 Notes: berbere (ber-beray with rolled “r”) is an Ethiopian spice consisting of red chili pepper and about nine
other spices. I prefer to not make it but buy it. Injera is a sourdough pancake bread made mostly from t’eff.        
,xadnI hope y    
Happy almost-weekend to you all, and a sincere thank you for coming by and reading.


Sharon said...

Thanks for the wot recipe! And, I will vouch for the 3 boys in my house...they give me heart attacks almost daily!

The Circus Peanut said...

That looks absolutely delicious!!!!

Kim said...

Misir is one of my absolute favorites. This is just how we make it here, and the boys LOVE it! Hot, hot, hot! :)

Laura said...

Oh, thank you for the recipe! I LOVE misir wot!

Anonymous said...

You need a "pin it" button for this!

scooping it up said...

Thanks Anon, I tried to add the little button down there, I don't know if it works, but pin away! :)

Barbaloot said...

Oh yes, I hear you on the wild and crazy antics front. I'm not sure how long my couch will survive. And my son's new thing is getting on top of his rocket climbing frame/ slide. Um, no, it is not designed for that. If I had more than one doing this kind of stuff, I'd probably have a reserved space in the cardiac ward. Gymnastics and karate lessons are on the horizon.

Jamey... said...

I love this post because it's so like my house! It was just this morning I thought to myself, "Why did I think it was a good idea to let them watch diving?" as they were attempting dives off my bed.

Also, that's a totally great book!

Now for my terrible confession. I've still never cooked my own Ethiopian food. Shame on me, I know. I feel it.

scooping it up said...

Jamey, that is shameful. Please, try making this and tell me if it works. We will know if it is "beginner" proof. I want to know if I can improve the directions! - YES to the "why did I make them watch the springboard divers?"

ethiopix said...

Misir wote(ምስር ወጥ)absorbes a lot of oil when you cook. You did Good job!

Captain Murdock said...

Oh my, my Taz is so much like your little daredevil, it's scary. Crazy fearless, crazy pain tolerance, willing to try anything. I need to get this book!!!!

My Mesir wat recipe calls for fresh tomatoes and a lot of times when I want to make it (especially in the winter), I'm out. Never thought to use canned. I also add about 1/2 tsp of meklesha at the end, but not sure how easy this spice is to come by if you aren't in a big city. Usually my mesir is a little too spicy for me, but it's my husband and oldest habesha's fav!

Corie Gibbs said...

Awesome! As a pre-adoption mommy, I've been looking for recipes to get started on. (Secretly want to surprise my child at my Ethiopian cooking ability...) Anything for injera? I'm thinking I'll need to buy supplies for that...

Thanks for posting!

scooping it up said...

Corie, go to

you can make injera. The proceeds from this awesome book fun medical care for Ethiopians. I know the folks who have worked on this project and it is great stuff! (I live close to an Ethiopian market that makes it and so I cheat and buy it.)

Ruthanne said...

I LOVE misir wat. I can't wait to try this! thank you!

Kim said...

I feel your pain! My 3 yr old son is the same way (Look Mommy! I fly like Buzz LightYear!" and "Can I fly off the deck onto the roof?") Just bought the book you recommended...thank you! These little boys with their bold, energetic spirits...so full of life, but going to make us grow old really fast ;)

Jan said...

That looks amazingly yummy. Thanks for posting!