Lentil stew and rice

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Lentil stew and rice

By sharing this recipe, I am thanking a long-time 98-year-old patient of mine who gave me a wonderful cookbook. 

She's a friend who programmed all the VCR remotes for everyone when we still had VCRs. She's a friend who writes poetry and emails it cards and notepaper she designed herself. She's the friend who drives to the Napa Valley, shops at a Fair Trade retailer, and gives the gift of The World of Street Food.

So, in honor of her, I offer the first recipe in the book, lentil wat (stew) from Ethiopia. Thank you, Mrs. T.

Servings: 4


  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large or two small onions, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (you can add more to taste at the end as I did)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 heaping teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Cover the lentils with water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, skim off the froth then simmer, covered for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are just tender. If the water is not all absorbed, drain off the excess. 
  2. In another saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat then add the onions.  
  3. Saute until they start to soften then add the garlic.  
  4. Cook another couple of minutes.  
  5. Stir in the chili powder, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and lemon juice. Add a little water if needed if the mixture seems to clump up.  
  6. Add the lentils and cook over low heat for another five minutes or so.  
  7. Stir in the cilantro.  
  8. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and chili powder. 
  9. Spoon over a serving of rice, mix it all together, and enjoy flavors from around the world.