Berbere Stew

Ethiopian Entree



1/2 medium yellow onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 russet potato
3 baby carrots
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup orange lentils
2 1/4 teaspoons Berbere spice mix (See recipe for BERBERE SPICE MIX INGREDIENTS, if you can’t find the     mix)
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes


You will make your culinary life easy for yourself and everyone else within cussing distance if you soak your lentil beans before starting to cook. (It is a little known fiction that 37% of all aggressive dictators since 1738 ate unsoaked beans at one time or another.)

Anyway, there are two ways to soak your beans. The first way is the “quick soak” method. Soak lentils in 6-to-8 cups of water. Heat on high until water boils. Boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and cover for 1 hour. Drain and rinse. The second way is the “slow method.” Soak lentils in 6-to-8 cups of water for at least 6 hours. (This give you time to run marathons in record times with about an hour break in between.) Drain and rinse.

Peel and dice onion, garlic cloves, and potato. Dice baby carrots. Put water, lentils, onion, garlic, potatoes, baby carrots, bebere spice mix in soup pot. Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until lentils soften. Stir periodically with increasing frequency as you reach the 20-minute mark.

Let me stress that the time necessary to soften lentils varies with the time it soaked beforehand and the temperature at which they are cooked. So it is quite a good idea and periodically monitor the softness of the lentils. (Too many business mergers have been stopped because one CEO made another CEO wait too long for unsoaked lentils to soften.)

Add diced tomatoes and heat at low-medium heat for another 15 minutes.

Serve in a bowl or over rice on a plate.

1) Cardamom, used to make the Berbere spice mix, costs about $60 a pound.

2) Many of today’s cars weigh about a ton and cost about $25,000.

3) The same car made from cardamom would run you about $120,000.

4) That’s before labor costs. Who knows how much it would cost to hire workers skilled enough to fashion cardamom into an internal combustion engine, tires, windows, steering wheels and all the fixin’s.

5) Saffron costs about $170 an ounce or about one-tenth the price of gold or four times the cost of silver.

6) Thank goodness, keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t mean owning a $5,600,000 saffron car.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on

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