I couldn't find berbere and used the suggested substitute with garam masala and other spices. The spice level was fine and not too hot. However, red lentils cook fully in about 15 minutes. This meant leaving them in a slow cooker for 8+ hours turned them into complete mush. The resulting texture resembled chicken in a vat of refried beans. Next time, I would leave the lentils out of the slow cooker, make them separately, and add them for a few minutes at the end. Start them right before you start some couscous to put the stew on, and it would probably work fine.
Ethiopian-Spiced Chicken Stew
From EatingWell: January/February 2012
This spicy chicken stew, generously seasoned with the Ethiopian spice mix berbere, is loaded with tomato and red lentils. Depending on brand, berbere spice blend can be rather spicy. For a less spicy stew, start with 3 tablespoons spice blend rather than 5.
25 Reviews for Ethiopian-Spiced Chicken Stew
Other reviewers said 5 TBSP is too much, my family and I certainly didn't think so. There are so many wonderful flavor components in the berbere, if you didn't put as much in, I feel the dish would lose it's authentic flavor appeal. Yes it's spicy, but if you eat it with naan or injera, that mellows the spice. We enjoyed this immensely!
First, I thought this was a GREAT combination of my favorite Ethiopian lentils and Doro Wat (without all the butter). I didn't find it a overly spicy (in fact, I thought it could have used a little more heat like Doro Wat) and I used the entire 5 Tlbsp. This leads me to believe that berbere spice must vary in its heat level by brand. I would suggest tasting your particular brand of spice before adding it to the recipe and adjusting accordingly.
I used red onions because that's what the recipe called for and I happened to have them on hand. I'm not sure why the recipe calls for the red onions, and I'm not sure they're necessary. My lentils (I cooked my stew for 9 hours on low because that's how long I was gone) fell apart a little more than I would have liked, and that affected the texture. Green or brown lentils might have held up better, but the lentils I love at our Ethiopian recipe are also red. Maybe next time I will braise the chicken instead of cooking it in a slow cooker to see if that helps the texture of the lentils. Regardless, I WILL be making this again! Yum!
I purchased berbere spice blend from our local Whole Foods (made by Seasoned Pioneers). The directions on the package instructed us to use "up to 4 tsp for 4 servings". We decided to use 4 tsp and not the 5 tbsp that was specified in the printed recipe. The heat was just about right for my husband and me, but a little too spicy for our 11-year old twins.
Eating Well editors, you owe your readers an apology and a correction. I can't believe that 5 tablespoons is the correct amount, and the earlier posts confirm this.
We loved this dish. It is one of the BEST things I cook.