This 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.

Jim Romanoff
Source: EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016


Recipe Summary

5 hrs


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Wash lentils in cold water in a medium bowl until the water runs clear; drain and spread in an even layer in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Place chicken on top of the lentils.

  • Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add berbere and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping the onion mixture from the bottom of the pan, then stir in tomatoes with their juice.

  • Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker on top of the chicken, then pour in broth.

  • Cover and cook until the chicken is falling-apart tender, 5 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low. Stir the stew to combine.


Make Ahead Tip: Trim chicken, prep onions, garlic and ginger. Refrigerate separately.

Equipment: 5- to 6-quart slow cooker

The secret to the irresistible flavor of this chicken stew is berbere spice blend (find it in well-stocked supermarkets or at This staple in Ethiopian cooking is a heady mix that usually includes garlic, fenugreek, allspice, red pepper, ginger, chiles, coriander, cinnamon and black pepper. If you can't find it, use a mixture of 4 tablespoons garam masala, 1 tablespoon hot paprika, 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek and 1 teaspoon salt in this recipe.

For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

Nutrition Facts

430 calories; protein 38g; carbohydrates 35.2g; dietary fiber 7g; sugars 4.6g; fat 13.9g; saturated fat 4.1g; cholesterol 98.2mg; vitamin a iu 334.8IU; vitamin c 13.6mg; folate 102.1mcg; calcium 68.7mg; iron 4.8mg; magnesium 59.4mg; potassium 724.7mg; sodium 665.6mg; thiamin 0.6mg.

Reviews (9)

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36 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 14
  • 4 star values: 10
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 8
  • 1 star values: 3
Rating: 4 stars
Delicious Cold-Weather Food I love this recipe. This is the second time I've made it and the aroma as it cooked was out of this world. I made a couple of adjustments this time around. I like a slightly thinner texture so I used just 1 cup of lentils rather than 1.5 cups. I also used the berbere this time (couldn't find it before) and I found 3 T. to be just the right amount. I do think the full 5 T would be overwhelming. Mine was done after 3 hours on high in the crock pot. The chicken just falls apart. I can't wait for leftovers at lunch tomorrow. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
be careful of the berbere my husband made this for us yesterday - he is a wonderful cook so imagine his surprise when we couldn't eat it- the berbere at 5 tbsps is way over the top- it was unedible - thank goodness for chinese take out - i would like him to try it again but in all honesty the recipe would probably be perfect at 1 tsps of the berbere - as one other person commented eating well should definitely caution about this spice Pros: aroma is wonderful Cons: berbere is way too hot at 5 tbsps. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
This is easy and delicious. We use 3 tbsp of Penzey s Berbere. It has plenty of kick at that level while still preserving the individual taste of the components. I also tend to throw more veg in the pot there is always room. Have found the leftovers freeze nicely for a midweek meal or work lunch. Read More
Rating: 1 stars
So hot nearly inedible and I love hot I scoured the internet for berbere recipes compared many in a chart I made and blended one reducing the hot pepper element as all the recipes seemed to consist of mainly ground red pepper of various description and paprika. The fractional teaspoons of other spices made me think that the option of using garam masala and fenugreek would give the dish a completely different flavor. So I made the berbere using crushed red pepper along with about a dozen other spices. I was really disappointed that after cooking this stew all day that it just tasted of hot pepper. In retrospect I calculated that the berbere recipes will contribute about two teaspoons of red pepper per serving. Perhaps my crushed red was just too hot. Another illustration of the effect of spice pungency on recipes. EW should have provided a tested berbere recipe. Pros: nice use of lentils Cons: ridiculously hot flavors obscured by pepper Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Watch the spice!!!!! We are used to a lot of hot spice in our food having lived in the Middle East and Africa; this is far too hot for any palate and the 5Tablespoons of berbere spice should be cut WAY back. Then it will be very tastey. Pros: Easy to assemble great for crockpot should be tastey...BUT Cons: TOO HOT Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Actually I love this recipe except for the spice level. I LOVE spicy food but this was beyond spicy which takes away from the flavor in my opinion. I actually made it again with less berbere spice and added sour cream and it was 5 star in my opinion. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
So Flavorful! This is one of our all-time favorite new recipes. We had the spices on hand that we purchased from a specialty shop in Vermont. It can easily be ordered online. I doubled the amount of ginger and garlic listed for even more flavor. It was way too spicy for my 5 year old but my husband and I have been eating it for days. Well worth stirring in chopped parsley before serving. It adds a punch of freshness. Pros: Big flavor nutritious spicy Read More
Rating: 2 stars
need to play around with the spice mixture I didn't have berbere spice blend so I used their substitution of garam masala etc. While it was cooking it had a strong cinnamon smell. I thought I would hate the dish but it was ok. I used masoor dal which I believe are split red lentils. I had no problem with the dish coming out like refried beans although the lentils certainly did cook down. I think I'd like this better with less garam masala and maybe some cumin or curry. I thought green peppers would be good too. I used about half as much red onion as they suggested; I think yellow onion would work fine too. I had no red wine so I skipped that. All in all I like the use of red lentils; I would just alter the spices in the future. Pros: chicken and lentil combination is great Cons: too much garam masala Read More
Rating: 5 stars
One of my family's favorites! Added tumeric saffron diced tomatoes and carrots. Worked up to the 5 tablespoons of bebere eventually!! Read More