Misir Wat: the perfect winter comfort food

By Mercedes Kay Gold, CNP, CPT

Chilled to the bone thanks to the frigid air, bitter wind and below freezing temperatures are typical Canadian frosty feelings in February. Wintertime self-love should be focused on eating nutrient dense grounding comfort foods. Getting cozy on a blustery day is easy with body-warming Misir Wat, Ethiopian’s spicy stew staple. The slew of spices in berbere is a bounty of health benefits, plus fantastic flavour favourite in food fare.

Berbere is the perfect culmination of holistic herbal happiness. Let’s take a look at the bevy of benefits. Ginger is a go-to for digestion, nausea, fighting the flu, and even combating the common cold. Coriander is chocked full of amazing immune supporting anti-oxidants plus it may benefit brain health and blood sugar. Cumin is an all-star for addressing anemia plus a dream for diabetes and digestion. Chewing cumin seeds is a traditional go-to for saying farewell to flatulence and banishing bad breath. Cloves contain anti-microbial properties, perfect for parasites and helping block bacteria. Nutmeg is linked to addressing arthritis, inflammation, liver, and stupendous as a skin support. Fenugreek is a fabulous find for high cholesterol and blood pressure plus incredible for helping reduce inflammation throughout the body. Improved blood circulation, sex drive and detoxification are all part and parcel compliments of cardamom. Allspice is an awesome anti-inflammatory and all about addressing aches and pains. Cayenne pepper contains the compound capsaicin, bringing the heat factor. Capsaicin stimulates nerves in the stomach, aids in digestion and helps prevent infections. Capsaicin boasts boatloads of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Cayenne pepper is a fiery friend for a dieter’s diet, raising the metabolism naturally. Paprika is another spice containing capsaicin. All the goodness in the superstar spice is the main attraction in a winter warm-up dish. It’s time to add the plant-based Ethiopian-style red lentil dish called Misir Wat to the menu!


  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • Can of chick peas or homecooked chickpeas (398ml)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of berbere (recipe tested with homemade recipe)
  • Salt and pepper to taste  


  1. Heat coconut oil on minimum and add onions, garlic and ginger. Cook the mixture until the onions are softened.
  2. Add the lentils, tomato paste and berbere spice.
  3. Add 2.5 cups of water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for 45-60 min until the lentils are soft and creamy.
  4. Add a can of drained and rinsed chick peas. Stir and simmer 5 more minutes.

Traditionally the meal is served with Injera, a fermented bread made from teff flour, but basmati rice is another great gluten-free option.

Make your own berbere.

Combine all ingredients and stir thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.

  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • Himalayan or sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Mercedes Kay Gold is a Certified Holistic Practitioner and Certified Mobile Personal Trainer living and working in Toronto. Her writing has been featured in various publications and has appeared on Daytime with Jacqueline Betterton. She spends her spare time blogging about all things healthy and enjoying time with her sons. She can be reached at mercedeskaygoldfitness@gmail.com or visit www.mercedeskaygold.com

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