Easy Ethiopian Lentils in an Instant Pot: Misir Wot Recipe & Tips

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine diving into a bowl of warm, spicy Ethiopian lentils, their flavors deepened by a blend of aromatic spices. Known as Misir Wot, this dish is a staple in Ethiopian cuisine, loved for its hearty texture and rich, comforting spices. It’s traditionally slow-cooked to perfection, allowing the lentils to soak up all the exotic flavors.

You can recreate this traditional dish right at your home using an Instant Pot, which significantly cuts down cooking time without compromising on taste. Whether you’re a fan of global cuisines or just looking for a nutritious meal that packs a punch, this Ethiopian lentils recipe is sure to impress. Ready in a fraction of the time, it’s perfect for a quick dinner or a wholesome meal prep solution.


Dive into the vibrant world of Ethiopian cooking with this Misir Wot recipe, perfect for your Instant Pot. Here’s everything you’ll need to bring those rich, comforting spices to your kitchen.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon Berbere spice blend
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 and 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

Required Tools

To successfully prepare Misir Wot using the Instant Pot, you need a few key kitchen tools. These tools will help streamline the cooking process and ensure your lentils are perfectly cooked.

Instant Pot Use

Before you start, ensure you have an Instant Pot. This multifunctional appliance is crucial as it significantly reduces the cooking time of the lentils while locking in all the aromatic spices. For the Misir Wot, a 6-quart Instant Pot is ideal, providing ample space for ingredients and ensuring even cooking.

  1. Instant Pot (6-quart or larger): This will be your primary tool for cooking Misir Wot. It’s perfect for handling the volume of lentils and other ingredients and offers various settings such as pressure cook, which is essential for this recipe.
  2. Measuring cups and spoons: Accurate measurement is key to the perfect balance of flavors in Ethiopian cuisine. Have a set ready for measuring spices, lentils, and liquids.
  3. Wooden spoon: A sturdy wooden spoon is necessary for sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger in the Instant Pot. It’s also useful for stirring the lentils as they cook to prevent sticking and ensure even flavor distribution.
  4. Cutting board and sharp knife: These are essential for prepping ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, and ginger.
  5. Ladle: To serve the Misir Wot, a ladle will help you transfer the hot lentils to serving bowls without any mess.

Making sure you have these tools ready before cooking begins will help you effortlessly prepare Misir Wot and capture the authentic taste of Ethiopian cuisine.

Preparation Steps

Get ready to transform simple ingredients into a vibrant and deeply flavored Ethiopian dish using your Instant Pot. Follow these steps meticulously to ensure that your Misir Wot turns out perfectly.

Rinsing and Sorting Lentils

Begin by measuring out 1.5 cups of red lentils. Place them in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear. This step is crucial as it helps to remove any dust or debris and reduces the natural bitterness of the lentils. Make sure to sift through the lentils with your fingers as you rinse them, picking out any stones or shriveled lentils. Shake the sieve gently to drain excess water.

Preparing Ingredients

Once your lentils are rinsed, prepare the other ingredients. Chop one large onion finely and mince four cloves of garlic. You should also grate a one-inch piece of ginger. For the tomatoes, dice two medium-sized tomatoes; fresh is preferable for the best flavor, but canned diced tomatoes can work in a pinch. Next, measure out the spices needed for the dish: 1 tablespoon of Berbere spice, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and salt to taste. Having all these ingredients prepared and within reach will streamline your cooking process when it’s time to start the Instant Pot. Additionally, set aside a lemon, which you will juice to finish the dish.

Cooking Instructions

Embark on the journey of cooking Misir Wot using your Instant Pot, which ensures a delightful blend of flavors with ease and efficiency.

Setting Up the Instant Pot

To begin, ensure your Instant Pot is clean and on a stable surface. Insert the inner cooking pot and plug in the device. Press the “Sauté” button to preheat as you will initially use this function to cook the onions and spices. Have your lid nearby and the sealing ring properly installed to prevent steam from escaping once you begin pressure cooking.

Cooking Progress

Once the Instant Pot indicates that it is “Hot,” add about two tablespoons of olive oil, followed by the finely diced onions. Sauté the onions until they turn golden and translucent. This should take approximately 5 minutes. Keep stirring to avoid sticking. Next, add minced garlic, grated ginger, and one tablespoon of Berbere spice. Continue to sauté for another two minutes to unleash their fragrant aromas.

Add one cup of rinsed red lentils, two cups of water, and diced tomatoes to the pot. Stir well to combine all the ingredients, ensuring that the lentils are submerged in the liquid. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of smoked paprika, and add salt to taste.

Secure the lid on your Instant Pot and set the valve to “Sealing.” Press the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button and set the timer for 15 minutes under high pressure. This duration is perfect for lentils as it fully cooks them to a soft consistency while maintaining their shape.

Once the cooking cycle completes, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn the valve to “Venting” to release any remaining steam. Open the lid once all the steam has escaped and stir the lentil mixture. Adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve your aromatic Misir Wot warm, perhaps with a side of Injera or rice.

Serving Suggestions

After mastering the cooking of Misir Wot in your Instant Pot, consider how best to serve this delightful dish to enhance its flavors and your dining experience.


Pair your Ethiopian lentils with traditional Injera, a spongy sourdough flatbread that perfectly complements the rich spices of Misir Wot. Alternatively, serve the lentils over a bed of aromatic basmati rice or with pita bread for dipping. To balance the spice, consider adding a side of cool, creamy yogurt or a simple cucumber salad dressed with vinegar and oil. These sides will not only add freshness but also varying textures to your meal, making it even more enjoyable.

Garnishing Tips

For an added touch of color and freshness, sprinkle chopped fresh cilantro or parsley over your Misir Wot before serving. A squeeze of lemon juice can also elevate the flavors, bringing out the depth of the spices. If you enjoy a bit of extra heat, a sprinkle of additional Berbere spice or red chili flakes will do the trick. Finally, a dollop of Ethiopian cottage cheese on the side of the plate makes for a traditional and visually appealing garnish.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Preparing Misir Wot in advance can be a game-changer, especially when you’re planning to serve a crowd or manage a busy week. Here’s how you can make this flavorful Ethiopian lentil dish ahead of time using your Instant Pot.

  1. Cook the Lentils: Follow the main recipe to pressure cook the lentils. Ensure that the lentils retain a bit of firmness, as they will soften further upon reheating. Once cooked, allow the Instant Pot to release pressure naturally, ensuring the lentils are perfectly cooked without turning mushy.
  2. Cool and Store: Spoon the cooked lentils into a large container, allowing them to cool completely. This prevents condensation from forming an unnecessary moisture that could make your lentils soggy.
  3. Refrigeration: Seal the container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate. Properly stored, your lentil dish will last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Ensure your fridge is set at or below 40°F (4°C) for safe storage.
  4. Reheating: When you’re ready to enjoy your lentils, reheat them gently on the stove or in the microwave. Add a small amount of water or vegetable broth to ensure they do not dry out during reheating. Stir occasionally to distribute heat evenly.

These simple make-ahead instructions will not only save you time but also enhance the flavors of the spices in the Misir Wot, as they meld and infuse the lentils during storage.


You’re now equipped to whip up a delicious batch of Misir Wot right in your Instant Pot. Remember, the beauty of this dish isn’t just in its robust flavors but also in its simplicity and the convenience it brings to your meal planning. Whether you’re serving it fresh or reheating it for a quick weekday meal, the rich taste of spices and tender lentils is sure to impress. So go ahead, give it a try and watch this traditional Ethiopian dish become a favored staple in your kitchen.

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