Shiro Wat (Chickpea Flour Stew)

A vegetarian classic in Ethiopian cuisine, shiro wat is a thick, smooth stew made from chickpea flour (also known as besan). The velvety soup is flavored with berbere—a spice blend that’s packed full of fragrant seasonings—and extra cardamom to create a symphony of scrumptious flavors. Chopped tomatoes and red onion add bright acidity to the explosion of spices while tahini delivers a creamy texture to make this stew extra slurpable. You’ll love the vibrant flavor profile and easy preparation of this simple but incredibly satisfying East African favorite.

Tip: Chickpea flour can be found at Ethiopian or Indian markets or online.

For more vegan African recipes, check out these tasty ideas:

By Darshana Thacker Wendel,


  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1½ tablespoons Berbere Spice Blend
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon tahini or cashew butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt, to taste


  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low. Add chickpea flour; cook for 10-15 minutes or until flour releases a toasted aroma, stirring frequently. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool.
  • In a large saucepan combine onion, garlic, and ¼ cup water. Cover and cook over medium 10 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato, Berbere Spice Blend, and cardamom; cook 10 minutes more.
  • Add tahini, lemon juice, and 6 cups water to the toasted chickpea flour; whisk until smooth. Add mixture to pan with onion mixture. Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until stew is thickened, stirring occasionally. Season with salt.

Comments (8)

(4 from 3 votes)

Recipe Rating

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This recipe was very poor, indeed. Low on flavour, too watery, and I am displeased at having wasted perfectly good ingredients! I served it on a bed of rice, and it turned out looking like sludge. The picture appealed to me, and I anticipated a hearty, aromatic stew. Nope. The best part was toasting the flour. THAT had a lovely aroma, and then it went downhill from there. Believe the other negative reviews and scroll on by this one, folks.


Thank you, Darshana, for creating this recipe so I can have Ethiopian meals at home. And you made it easy and available! I doubled the recipe. I added about 1/3 lb. of baby spinach and kale (slightly chopped) and steamed it with the tomato mixture before adding chickpea flour. Also I ended up adding a roasted chopped sweet potato and a couple of chopped medjool dates to give it a sweeter profile. Don't plan to eat with rice. So good and filling as is. Maybe a cucumber and fresh mint salad would compliment it as mentioned. Yum yum. Oh, for those of you who have time, you can make your own berbere spice blend so you can tweak it to your preferences as far as heat and flavor emphasis. The only exotic ingredient is fenugreek, the rest most folks have in their pantry. Not all the spices are hot, but give the unique flavor that makes Ethiopian food so fantastic!


I loved the flavor in this soup. I made it because I’d never used flour as a soup base and was curious. A couple of my tweeks: a little less of the Berber spice blend. It has red and black pepper and the full amount would have been too hot for my palate. I also like more structure to my soup so followed some of the suggestions by adding more tomato, chickpeas and then served over brown rice. Veggie broth instead of water, and before serving, a squeeze of lemon, soy milk and vegan sour cream tamed the heat and added wonderful flavor and creaminess. Glad I was introduced to this chickpea base soup. The toastiness of the flour added another layer of flavor.


Love love love this s recipe! Soothing and creamy. Just delicious. This will be a great go to soup. So easy


Its Ethiopian staple food.


Not so impressed with this recipe. It is a thick type of soup, but needs more vegetables. I was not a huge fan of the seasoning. I won't repeat this one.


I love this recipe! I doubled the recipe because I love this dish when I go to Ethiopian restaurants (I tweeked some ingredients, vegetablebroth instead of water)


Very good. I added a lot more chilli, and a packet of hard tofu to bulk it out a bit. A tin of chickpeas or beans would work well too. It goes well with lentil flatbread, sliced cucumber and tomato, and pickled chillies and turnips for breakfast.

About the Author

Headshot of Darshana Thacker

About the Author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a whole-food, plant-based chef and former culinary projects manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit and follow her on Instagram for more.
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