Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

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Sorry for the lack of food styling, but this picture was taken on Sunday post-race party, when L was feelin’ good. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I served my lentil stew over couscous, but feel free to use rice (to be gluten-free) or your fave grain instead! YUMMMMM.

This vegan stew was the saving grace of my Sunday post-race (hands down). Walking into my place and being able to ladle up and immediately devour a hot, delicious meal was beyond necessary and amazing. I started this stew Sunday morning pre-race, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, and by the time I was done Irish jigging (6 – 8 hours later), it was ready for eatin’. The glory of slow-cooker recipes! Ever since I ate some delicious Ethiopian food in DC a few weekends ago, I’ve been dying to recreate the red lentil dish I had – it was hearty, spicy and warmed you to the bones. YUM. I knew I could dream up a vegan version and loosely adapted this recipe from the Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker cookbook I referenced previously in the Moroccan Tempeh and Chickpea Stew I made a month ago (to the day! Weird!). My version brings the spice level up a couple of notches, right where I like it – it gives a nice depth and fullness to the flavor profile. As always on B&B, we value versatility of recipes – if you’re not digging the spice, it is easily adjusted to your personal tastes. This recipe can also be adapted to simmer on the stove top if you’re not into the crock pot scene, just combine ingredients into a large Dutch oven and simmer for 35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. This one is definitely one for the books: nutritious, filling, full of flavor and versatile; and it’s also vegan AND gluten free (bonus!). If you can find Ethiopian Berbere spice blend, a mixture of dried chiles, cloves, ginger, coriander, and allspice, more power to you (you can usually find some at gourmet markets and specialty food stores) – use 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp in place of the spice mixture I’ve used here. Also, check out how to make your own homemade Berbere spice blend here. Without further ado:

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Everything you need for Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew: veggie broth, garlic, onion, tempeh, lentils, tomato paste, diced tomatoes and a plethora of spices. Oh, and a crock pot.

Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew


  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 8-oz package of tempeh, diced
  • 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated (or 3/4 tsp dried ginger)
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3/4 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp fenugreek
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Step One: Get your slow cooker ready to go. Add the tomatoes (with liquid), lentils, tempeh, and broth right into the slow cooker.

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Step Two: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the spices and tomato paste and toast for about one minute.

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Step Three: Transfer the paste/spice mixture to the slow cooker.
photo 5Step Four: Add the broth and stir to combine.

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Step Five: Cook! Allow the stew to simmer on Low for 6 – 8 hours.

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Step Six: Enjoy ๐Ÿ˜€ Serve your stew over rice or couscous, sprinkle with fresh cilantro if desired and eat up. YUM!


This recipe is uncomplicated, delicious and is great for serving a crowd of people – it is sure to be a hit. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, most of them are spices, and if you don’t have one, it won’t kill the dish (unless it’s coriander or cumin – then you might be in troub). Just season to taste, and a few extra shakes of one of the others if you feel it needs something (no big deal ๐Ÿ˜‰ sometimes you’ve gotta go with the flow). I especially love this dish because it is so flavorful it feels suitable for a special occasion, but is pretty straightforward and simple to throw together (and if you already have a crate of spicesย ร  la L, the ingredients are pretty cheap). It’s also full of protein (lentils + tempeh) and antioxidants (look at the list of spices, yo!). Tasty and good for you? SCORE.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! It was DAMN good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

With warmth,


xoxox โค

8 thoughts on “Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

    • You guys definitely have to try it out! I think you’d really like it!! It’s so delicious. I also highly recommend you check out the link I shared where you can mix up your own Berbere spice blend, it looks right up your alley! And kind of fun too, to adjust it to your tastes. Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Sesame Ginger Quinoa Salad | Bubbles and booyah

  2. All caught up! Haha I had a little backlog… This looks good. I just actually just made a red lentil dish too. The recipe called for 1 cup! of berbere So I did a few Tbsp instead. It was good in the end but I could tell it needed more. One to work on.


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