This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.
It starts with the spices. You can use pre-ground spices, but using whole seeds will intensify and deepen the flavors of the Berbere. I use a mix of both. You can purchase Berbere at select stores, but truthfully where we live it’s a challenge to find.
Use a mortar and pestle, or even a coffee grinder, to grind the seeds.
Once the Berbere spice mix is done, start on the lentils.
When the lentils are simmering, rub chicken thighs on all sides with kosher salt, pepper and Berbere Spice Mix.
Heat a skillet with oil on medium-high heat and place thighs skin side down, searing until golden and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Turn over and sear a few more minutes. Place in a hot oven until the internal temp reaches 165F. Serve over the Ethiopian Lentils and sprinkle with Italian parsley.
Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 40
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Main, Chicken
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Ethiopian
Berbere Chicken and Lentils – a flavorful delicious Ethiopian recipe that features Berbere Spice. See notes for a vegan tofu option!
- 1 cup French Green, OR Black lentils, OR Beluga Caviar lentils (do not use a split lentil)
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups diced onions
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced tomato
- 2–3 tablespoons Berbere Spice Mix (see below)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- 6 chicken thighs (skin-on)
- 2–3 tablespoons Berbere Spice Mix
- olive oil
- Kosher Salt
Berbere Spice Mix
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, ground plus more for extra spicy
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds or powdered cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds or powdered coriander
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (shelled) or powdered cardamom
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds or powdered fenugreek
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns or freshly ground peppercorn
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- Make the lentils: In a heavy bottom pot, or dutch oven, saute diced onion, carrots, garlic and ginger in 2 tablespoons olive oil, until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add 2-3 tablespoons Berbere Spice mix and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup lentils, 1 cup diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low and let cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Uncover and cook off any extra liquid.
- Make the Chicken: Pat dry the chicken and salt all sides with salt and pepper and generously rub each piece with Berbere Spice Mix. The more, the spicier.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy bottom skillet, on medium-high heat, place chicken skin side down and sear until it is crispy and golden, about 6- 8 minutes. Turn over, and turn heat down to medium, searing for 2-3 minutes. Place in a 400 F oven until internal temperature reaches 165F (10-15 minutes)
- Serve over a bed of the Ethiopian lentils, and garnish with fresh Italian parsley.
Berbere Spice Mix:
- If using whole seeds, lightly toast them on the stovetop in a skillet for 2-3 minutes.
- Grind them using a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Remember to crush or grind the chili flakes.
If subbing tofu for the chicken: Use extra firm tofu and cut into 1 inch thick slabs or “filets”, pat dry with paper towels, very lightly pressing down. Sprinkle each side generously with salt and pepper then place a few tablespoons of Berber Spice on a plate, spreading it out, and coat each side of the tofu lightly. Pan sear in a well-oiled skillet, over medium heat, allowing the tofu to form a crust thereby, naturally releasing itself from the pan. This will prevent sticking and allow easy flipping. Pan sear each side until crispy, golden and warmed through. Serve over the lentils. I’d use two large blocks for 6 people.
- Calories: 405
Keywords: Berebere Chicken, Ethiopian Chicken Recipes, Berebere lentils, Ethiopian Lentil Recipes,
How do you adapt this recipe for a whole chicken? How would you brown it?
Hi Nan- I would not brown it in a pan, I would just roast it (uncovered) in the oven with the spices rubbed in. You could also spatchcock it ( type in “Spatchcock” in the search bar for a spatchcocked chicken video)-that would get all parts nice and golden. 🙂
I did it with thighs and breasts tonight for company and it was GREAT. Next time I will spatchcock it. That’s perfect. Thank you!