Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of berbere (or all of the paprika, cumin, and coriander), and salt, along with cardamom and cinnamon, if you’re using it. Cook for 5-7 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
Add the lentils and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
When the lentils are nearly done, stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Simmer for a couple more minutes and serve with rice, flatbread, or plain.
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