Berbere Spiced Lentils

Berbere Lentils

One of my best experiments this year was eating lentils while wearing my continuous blood glucose monitor. I found by keeping my portion modest, I didn’t get any blood sugar spikes.

So happy to be enjoying lentils again!

Lentils and spice are a match made in heaven.

Especially this version with the exotic Ethiopian Berbere spice blend.

But don’t feel like you need to buy some Berbere spice to make this. A good curry powder or my go-to mix of cumin, smoked paprika and coriander will be just as delicious.

Berbere Lentils
5 from 2 votes

Berbere Spiced Lentils

Course Dinner
Cuisine ethopian
Keyword baby spinach, berbere spice, feta, red lentils, tomato passata
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 people


  • 450 g ground (minced) beef
  • 200 g red lentils 1 generous cup
  • 1/2 cup tomato passata / puree
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Berbere spice OR mild curry powder
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 100 g feta


  1. Heat a little oil in a medium saucepan on a medium high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring for a few minutes - until the beef is no longer pink and starting to brown.
  2. Add lentils, tomato passata / puree, spice / curry powder, a big pinch salt and 1.5 cups water. Cover and bring to a rapid simmer.
  3. Simmer, covered, on a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stirring once or twice. If the pot is drying out add an extra 1/2 cup water. While the lentils are cooking dice or crumble the feta.
  4. Continue to simmer and stir until the lentils are cooked to your liking. I like them soft but not falling apart and still with some bite like al dente pasta.
  5. When the lentils are cooked, taste and season with more salt and more spice if needed.
  6. Divide baby spinach between two bowls. Top with lentils and finish with feta.

Recipe Video

Variations & Substitutions Berbere Lentils

different spice / family friendly – garam masala or 1 teaspoon each ground cumin, coriander and smoked paprika. Or try 1 teaspoon all spice and some dried chilli powder.

pantry-friendly – use frozen spinach.

short on time – brown beef in a separate pan at the same time as simmering the lentils.

Keto / ultra low carb – skip the lentils (and water) and serve spiced tomatoey beef on a bed of baby spinach with extra feta and some avocado or roast nuts.

vegetarian – replace beef with the same quantity of sliced mushrooms. I also like to soften an onion or two before cooking the lentils to add extra depth of flavour.

dairy-free – replace feta with avocado, olives or roast walnuts.

nightshade-free – replace tomato and water with chicken or veg stock.

more substantial (carb lovers) – serve with warm flat bread.

more substantial (low carb) – extra feta, avocado or some roast nuts.

Low FODMAP – halve the lentils (and water) and serve with double the feta.

different vegetables – soften an onion (and carrot and celery if you like) before adding the beef. And feel free to add more robust greens like chard, silverbeet, kale, spinach or collard greens to wilt in at the end. Or throw in any cooked veg that happen to need using up.

different protein – any ground or diced meat will work. For leaner cuts like chicken breast fillets or steak slice and brown them in the pan then keep warm while you cook the lentils. Then return the cooked meat to the pot at the end.

more fancy / for entertaining – skip the ground (minced) meat and serve lentils as a side to succulent slow roast lamb or brisket.

Problem Solving Guide

bland – more salt, more spice or a squeeze of lemon or lime. Or a splash of hot sauce.

too dry – different sized pots will have different evaporation rates. Just keep the lid on and keep an eye on your pot. Add more water if it starts to dry out.

crunchy lentils – they just need cooking for longer. Add a little more water and return to the pan and simmer until you’re happy.

burning on the bottom – next time stir more frequently! For now just transfer the unburned top layers to a clean pot and discard the burnt bits.

sticking to the pan – next time oil the dish more generously. A non stick pan or well seasoned pan will help. For now allow the pan to cool so the eggs release.

Prepare Ahead Berbere Lentils

Yes! Just cook as per the recipe but keep the baby spinach and feta separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or can be frozen. To serve, bring back to a simmer with a little extra water. Top with feta and baby spinach.

Berbere Lentils

More Recipes Like Berbere Lentils

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x

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  • This looks and sounds fabulous Jules. I actually just made the mushroom and lentils recipe last night! Can’t wait to try this soon, will definitely let you know how it goes :)

  • Hi Jules,
    It is very hot in Wamuran, I finished the whipper snipping at 930,am but I will wait till it gets cooler, then I will hop on the rider mower. I find that with lentils, I steep them overnight, and use my fav spices.

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