Ethiopian Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

Ethiopian Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

Yesterday I had my first omg-are-you-sure-this-isn’t-child-birth moment to announce the coming season. Okay, okay so that’s probably (definitely) a bit dramatic.

However, after running through burst after burst of frigid winds, it did feel as though I just experienced a 45-minute tattoo session. There’s nothing like inking your legs with icy, sunsetting winter temps. Those winds stung.

Red Lentils

Luckily, on the other end of that run, I had these spiced and warming, Ethiopian-styled lentils waiting for me. What I did not have was much sun to take their beautiful, natural-lit glam shots.

So begins the rough season for all food bloggers, sans studio space. Good thing I like challenges. I really like red lentils, too.

Full of protein, and creamy once cooked, red lentils make for the perfect topping to smear across flatbreads. They are a staple in Ethiopian cooking, often found accompanying the unleavened bread, known as injera, that most Ethiopian recipes use to replace both fork and spoon.

With this recipe, I’ve tried to replicate a go-to lentil dish that I often order at my neighborhood’s Ethiopian spot. I wanted that buttery, spice-infused dish that they create, and through research, called upon my spice cabinet to help me execute this properly. The only spice I was missing seemed to be allspice. However, I can’t say I noticed its absence.

Ethiopian Red Lentils and Sweet Potato

I didn’t feel like researching how to make injera, and instead whipped up a garbanzo-flour-powered batch of socca for these lentils. It’s one of my favorite flatbreads, and so simple to make! If serving a crowd, you’ll want to double the socca recipe, since you’ll have enough lentils here to feed around six people, double the amount that the cast iron socca will support. Enjoy!

Ethiopian Red Lentils and Sweet Potato

Ethiopian Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lg. sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus to taste
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Socca
  • For the Socca (Double this if you plan to feed a crowd and eat all lentils on the same night.):
  • -1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • -1 cup water
  • -1 tsp. + scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • -1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil


  1. Heat olive oil over medium high. Add sweet potato and onion and saute for 6 minutes. Stir in ginger and garlic, and saute another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add lentils, tomatoes, water, spices and salt.
  2. Cook for 35-45 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and mixture begins to thicken. Stir in spinach, and let cook for another 3-5 minutes, until spinach is wilted.
  3. To make socca: Preheat oven to 400F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and set aside for at least 5 minutes. While waiting, heat large cast iron skillet in oven for 5 minutes. Remove, and lightly coat with oil. Pour in socca batter and gently spread to distribute evenly.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until top begins to brown, and dough is cooked through. Remove from pan, and cut into triangles. Repeat if making a double batch. Serve with lentils, and top with cilantro.


If feeding a crowd of 6, double the Socca recipe. Otherwise, use the leftovers as you wish, and make more Socca as needed!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    November 20, 2014 at 4:01 am

    Fantastic! I’ve been thinking about cooking something very similar; isn’t that funny? I may well have to try now!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2014 at 6:55 am

    I’ve been putting off my first really cold run….but I better make a big batch of these lentils this weekend to warm me up when I get home! Love all the spices in this.

  • Leave a Reply