Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mental for Lentils: Berbere-Spiced Red Lentils with Yogurt {Another 5:2 Fast Day Dinner}

Just when I start to get smug about how well my 5:2 Diet is going, I go and make a pig's breakfast of it. Indeed, my last "fast day" was nothing short of disastrous.

I don't know what ravenous beast got into me, but before the day was over I had cheated with the following foods: many nibbles of Cotswold cheese, handfuls of wasabi peas, and no fewer than 3 glasses of rose. I had broken my 500 calorie limit before dinner.

If only I had made this dish for lunch rather than dinner I think the day would have gone very differently. A smallish serving - at just 250 calories - was filling and completely satisfying. Even Poppa Trix, who is not doing the 5:2, was happy with a fast-day-appropriate portion.

While I usually prefer to make my own spice blends, this time I used a store-bought berbere spice from Whole Foods. Berbere is an Ethiopian spice blend, typically containing some combination of hot pepper, fenugreek, cloves, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon. I wasn't terribly hopeful that the Whole Foods version would satisfy, as I have found their products to be somewhat hit-or-miss - sometimes things are hopelessly watered down and bland - but this was pretty close to the mark, and best of all, it's actually got a nice hot kick.

Berbere Spiced Red Lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 thumb fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon berbere spice
1 cup red lentils
14 ounces fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
salt & pepper, to taste
Greek yogurt & cilantro, to garnish

In a medium saucepan, saute the shallot and ginger in the olive oil over medium heat until the shallot is soft. Add the garlic and the berbere spice, stir to combine. Add the lentil and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentil are soft, about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally and if the lentils are drying out add more liquid. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with a dollop of yogurt and garnish with cilantro. 

This would be super with some injera or naan bread, which I really shouldn't think about, as today is another fast day ... wish me luck.


  1. This looks fantastic and I just happen to have a sack of red lentils in the pantry begging for attention. I don't have the spice but I think any spice of the region would work? I ask because I am not the expert you are in these matters. Also... as I stare at your beautiful photo I realized that I at first mistook that dollop for a poached egg. And THAT, my me ideas...

  2. Yes, I absolutely envision scooping this up with a hunk of naan.

    The right cheese would cause any diet intentions to falter. There are some foods that can not be denied. Cheese (the good kind, not the fake cheese) is certainly on the top ten of that list.

  3. Lentils are such a great ingredient and nourishing. And this would have been good for lunch. I like the Berbere spices and glad this one you bought did not disappoint. So is the 5:2 working? I have read lots of bad stuff on it.

  4. This sounds really delicious. Although I've never made Ethiopian food, I'd love to try!
    And I think we've all had days like that....

  5. Its really enjoyable post for delicious dish. I made many time Ethiopian food at home and new I add new dish in my list. Ethiopia Cuisine always great.

  6. This is so yummy. The greek yogurt compliments the dish nicely. I also paired it with some garlic naan. So delicious. Thank you for posting this recipe.

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  8. Really great spice blends,.
    This is just best,..
    spice blends

  9. Thanks, this year you get lot of opportunity and share more foodie blog and its recipe. kabab restaurant in south delhi

  10. Whole Foods is thousands of Advantage miles away from me. Would you have an alternate berbere spice recipe?