Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets...


Injera is a dietary staple in Ethiopia, and my favorite way to eat with your hands! Injera is a traditional Ethiopian flatbread, made from teff (the smallest grain in the world), making it rich in protein, calcium, fiber, and iron. This very large, spongy, crepe-like bread is totally unique and may take some getting used to. It is served cold and almost never eaten on its own. During a meal, one piece of bread is used like a plate, where dishes such as stews and salads will be placed on top of the bread for serving. Another injera is served on the side, and pieces of it are torn off and used to scoop up mouthfuls of the other foods. The injera that was used as a plate is eaten towards the end of the meal, once the foods on it start disappearing, and the juices and flavors have soaked into it. Injera becomes the plate, eating utensil, and the food, all at once! The slight sour taste adds a little something extra to the main dishes, without taking away from their own distinct flavors. Injera is cooked on a clay plate over an open fire or, more popular today, an electric skillet, and because it requires fermentation, it takes two to three days to prepare. Since teff can be expensive and hard to find, it can be substituted with rice, buckwheat, or whole wheat flours, barley, or corn meal. Methods of preparing this Ethiopian bread vary depending on the climate and altitude of where it is being made. For some basic direction to start with, try out the below recipe!
Injera Recipe:
1 1/2 cups ground teff
2 cups water
salt, to taste
vegetable oil, for the skillet
Mix the ground teff and water together in a bowl with salt to taste. Make sure there are no lumps. Put aside for one to three days to allow the dough to ferment. This is when the injera acquires its tangy, slightly sour taste.
Heat up a skillet, adding a little oil so the injera doesn't stick. The injera dough should be loose like a pancake or crepe batter. Pour some batter or dough on the hot skillet covering the entire cooking surface. The injera should be thicker than a crepe, but not as thick as a pancake.
Allow the injera to cook. Little bubbles will rise to the surface. Once the top in the injera is dry it's done. You only cook one side of this bread and you don't allow the injera to brown on the cooked side.

Substitutions and Additions:
You may substitute other flours such as rice flour, whole wheat flour, or corn meal for the teff flour. Some people use half self-rising flour and another flour.
Sometimes club soda is used instead of water. This gives the dough faster start in the fermentation process - sort of like a sour dough starter.
Yeast may also be added to the recipe to help the dough rise

*Photo from
*Recipe from

1 comment:

  1. If you haven't tried injera bread, you should. In fact, if you haven't tried Ethiopian, go out today and try it.

    Just walk in into any Ethiopian place and ask for a "Veggie Platter." What you will usually get a is pizza like plate with a slab of injera. On top of it, little "mounds" of different types of veggie stews/concoctions are served. The meal usually comes with 6 or 7 different types of flavorful veggie stews. You are also served some extra injera on the side. So, you just grab a piece of injera, soak it into one of the mounds and delight yourself with the great flavors. It's awesome.