Friday, March 4, 2022

Menestra de Lentejas/Ecuadorian Lentil Stew

This is a simple and hearty lentil stew from Ecuador. This simple stew is easy to prepare, made with simple ingredients, and is vegan too! This is served traditionally with rice but a garlic toast or piece of crusty bread will also pair well.

Lentils are easy to cook and are very nutritious. They are rich in protein and fiber and are also easy on the price. Lentils make wonderful and comforting stew that is budget friendly like Veggie Lentil Soup. This is one of the ways I make it and the other in our traditional way with Indian spices. I tried the lentil stew from Ecuador while exploring the cuisine of Ecuador and fell in love with this simple and flavorful stew. The achiotte/anatto powder gives a beautiful color just like turmeric we use in Indian cuisine.

I checked Laylita's website and some YouTube videos while exploring Ecuadorian cuisine. Laylita's recipe was amazing with good details and with spot on flavors. When following this recipe, I found a simple measurement issue as one tomato or onion was mentioned and their sizes always vary. In my recipe, I have given the measurements in standard cup size measurements that would help in easy understanding of the recipe. These measurements gave very similar results as Laylita's. I included a little cayenne too which is not used in her recipe. This is just to adjust the heat level according to our taste palette and is totally optional. 

The refrito gives a beautiful flavor and stirring in a little adds lovely texture. It is optional to add a little at the end but I loved and do recommend it.

I served this lentil stew with Ecuadorian amarillo rice, mashed plantains and curtido. But this lentil stew is so amazing that you can have it as a comforting bowl of stew for the cold winter. They pair well with a garlic toast or with a slice of crusty bread or even flatbreads. 

This is the first Saturday of March and that means one thing! It is our #SupperclubSaturday. Sue of Palatable Pastime hosts this event. We share our favorite recipes for this event. Check here if you'd like to participate. 

I am also linking this to What's For Dinner. Share The Wealth, Full Plate Thursday, and Thursday Favorite Things.

Serves 4 to 6

Prep time:10 min
Cook time: 35-40 min

Lentils - 1 cup
Water - 4.5 cup

For the Refrito

Oil - 2 tbsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Garlic - 2 tbsp
Onion - 3/4 cup
Bell pepper - 3/4 cup
Tomatoes - 1 cup, chopped
Cayenne - 3/4 tsp
Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1.5 tsp
Achiotte - 1/4 tsp


Heat oil in a heavy pan, add the cumin, garlic, onion, bell peppers, tomatoes followed by achiotte, salt, cayenne, pepper, and salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes.

Reserve one-third of this to add in the last step. This is optional.

Add water to the pot with remaining refrito and bring it to a boil

Add the lentils. 

Cook for 25 minutes covered or until the lentils are tender.

Stir in the reserved refrito. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve with Ecuadorian yellow rice or any grains or a piece of crusty loaf too.


  1. We are traveling to Ecuador in our Eat the World challenge this month. I have already made my recipe but this recipe will be perfect during Lent. Thanks