Ethiopian Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat with Injera Flatbread

22 Oct

A wat or wot (what?) is an Ethiopian stew. I first read about Ethiopian cuisine on The Taste Space and I knew I had to try it out for myself. It is spicy, which I love as you might have guessed and is great for vegetarian or vegan food lovers. The flavour comes mainly from an Ethiopian spice mix called Berbere. Berbere has as many different variations as I have shoes but the one I have chosen to make includes: red chilli flakes, turmeric, paprika, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice & clove.

I decided to make it with sweet potatoes and yellow lentils (or split peas) because the sweet potatoes are at their peak here at the moment which means delicious and cheap. You could also use pumpkin and chickpeas or any other vegetables you need to use up. Just add a legume to the pot to make it authentic and nutritionally balanced.

The traditional accompaniment to any Ethiopian meal are Injera flatbreads. Injera are slightly spongy crepe or pancake-like flatbreads made with a yeasted dough batter made from Teff flour. Teff is an ancient grain believed to have been cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea since 4000 BC.

I have a brilliant flour supplier in Alhaurin, Andres from El Amasadero who can get hold of these unusual flours. He also holds bread making workshops which I am threatening to attend one day.  Fortunately you don’t have to make these with Teff flour you can use spelt or normal flour instead. It’s actually fun to do. Or you could just buy some Indian or Middle Eastern flatbreads if you’re short of time (or patience).

Ethiopian Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free.  Adapted from The Taste Space

For the Berbere spice mix:

Makes 1 small jar. You only need 1 Tbsp for this recipe

  • 4 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Grind the fenugreek seeds, red chilli flakes & sea salt in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder until you have a powder then mix with the rest of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a dry place.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe

  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 600g), scrubbed and cut into 1-2 cm chunks
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Berbere spice mix (see above)
  • 1 cup dried yellow lentils (or split peas)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 cabbage (250 g), shredded
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • fresh coriander to serve

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat and cook the onions, with a pinch of salt, for about 4 minutes until translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two more. If it gets dry add a little splash of stock. Add the 1 tbsp Berbere spice mix, cabbage, tomato and season with salt & black pepper.

Add the lentils, sweet potatoes and veg stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and the lentils are cooked. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes more with the lid off. Add the fresh coriander just before serving and check seasoning.

Injera Flatbread Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan. Needs an hour rising time

  • 110 g wholemeal, spelt or teff flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 15 g fresh)
  • 155 ml warm (not hot) water

Mix everything together in a large bowl to form a batter. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or longer until well risen.

When ready to cook, stir the batter then tip into a blender with about 110 ml (1/2 cup) water and blend. The batter will be quite thin.

Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium high heat without any oil and pour about 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan, swirl or spread it about with a spatula until it covers the base of the pan evenly like a crepe/pancake. Cook until little bubbles or cracks appear all over the top. You do not need to turn it over to cook the other side. Keep warm on a plate covered with a tea towel while you cook the rest.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…..

Rufus posing in the autumn sun.

Pink Roses & Acorns, there’s got to be a recipe in there somewhere….


18 Responses to “Ethiopian Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat with Injera Flatbread”

  1. frugalfeeding October 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Yet another fantastic post! Looks delicious!

  2. VogueVegetarian October 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    This looks great! I love Ethiopian dishes and I can’t wait to give this one a try. I’ve also been looking for a good recipe for Injera. The one I have is awful 🙂 Thanks!

  3. emmycooks October 23, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    I am so excited about these recipes. I live Eithopean food but have never thought to try it at home!

    • tony ward October 23, 2012 at 8:34 am #

      This is amazing guapa. Will make it tonight for sure. We (royal we) are doing a non meat diet at the moment and as you say

  4. gypsyroller77 October 23, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    This is right up my alley! I’m eager to try making that flatbread. I had it at an Ethiopian restaurant years ago and loved its spongey texture.

  5. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide October 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Great recipe and another Rufus sighting. Wonderful way to start the day. Two of my favorite ingredients here and I never combine them.

  6. janet @ the taste space October 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Lovely! I love your take on the dish and I can’t wait to try your injera recipe! 🙂

  7. Chica Andaluza October 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Sweet potatoes and flat bread…and then complete it we have the lovely Rufus! Thanks Natalie 🙂

  8. gertygiggles October 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    I’ve only just found this blog, well I found it yesterday to be precise, and I’m just loving all the recipes. Will be trying out this one very soon as sweet potatoes are in season here too and my neighbour has kindly given me a whole carrier bag of them. Thank you for this one.

  9. Allison October 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    This all looks wonderful! I absolutely love Ethiopian food (but there are no Ethiopian restaurants where I’m living now, so I’ve basically made it a point to go to one every single time I’m out of town in a bigger city…). This post is inspirational for just learning to make it all myself at home! Thank you : )

  10. yambean October 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    I have enjoyed your blog so much I have nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger Award. Please check my site for the requirements of acceptance. Congratulations!

  11. Enchanted Seashells October 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    I just found you, I’ve been a veg since I was in high school–a long long time! Your recipes sound fantastic.

  12. Three Well Beings October 25, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    It’s good to see Rufus! He was happy in the sunshine! I didn’t know the term “wat” but it’s good to be introduced. I love a new way to enjoy sweet potatoes. I never get tired of them! Delicious!

  13. A new cook March 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    When do we add the sweet potatoes? Same time as the lentils? You didn’t say in the recipe instructions. Help please!

    • Natalie Ward March 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

      Yes sorry, with the lentils, adding it now, thanks!


  1. Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat | Sophia Chow - November 6, 2012

    […] is, because quite frankly neither did I.  Which didn’t stop me from attempting Ethiopian Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat.   I even made the berber spice mix on Sunday night for optimal efficiency on a Monday night. I […]

  2. For the Love of Blog: Rufus Turns Two | Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - November 27, 2012

    […] The Rufus Guide to Eating, Drinking and Life would be a chart topper, especially if we could use this guy’s picture.) Or maybe this […]

  3. 2013-05-03 Fabulous Friday Finds | surviving the food allergy apocalypse - May 3, 2013

    […] looking for new and interesting things to try, and this Ethiopian Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat with Injera Flatbread looks fascinating. It’s vegan and gluten free, using teff flour to make the Injera […]

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