Injera (Ethiopian flatbread)

WARNING: you need to plan in advance if you’re making injera, as it can take anything between 8 hours and 3 days to prepare….!

Injera is the staple of Ethiopian cuisine, serving as the starchy element of most meals, as well as the plate and the cutlery! Yes, thats right – food is served on the injera, like a plate or tablecloth; food is eaten with the injera, like cutlery; and then the injera itself is eaten with the meal (often a hearty stew), like bread.

It’s only when the tablecloth has been eaten that the meal is officially over 😉

Here’s how to whip up a batch of the world’s most versatile flatbread…. 😀

Flavour: Savoury – soaks up the flavour of whatever you eat with it

Yield: 10 injera

Ingredients:

  • 1 and a half cups teff flour
    • Amateur tip: if you can’t get teff, you can use plain wheat flour, wholewheat flour, spelt flour, buckwheat flour, or millet flour – all of these work just fine, but teff is the authentic grain of choice (indigenous to Ethiopia – actually, it’s not a grain, it’s the tiny seed of a species of grass, kinda like buckwheat, but really really tiny), and is gluten-free (so not well suited to baking)
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • unflavoured oil (I use sunflower) for cooking

Directions:

  1. Make injera batter in a large mixing bowl by mixing the teff (or alternative flour) with the water, adding the water a little at a time, and stirring to combine
  2. Stand your injera batter, covered with a dish towel, at room temperature to ferment for anything between 8 hours and 3 days
    • Amateur tip: plan in advance – if you live in a warm climate like I do, you can get away with an overnight fermentation (especially in summer), but perhaps best to plan for 24 hours; if you live in a cooler climate, plan for a 2-3 day stretch, or speed it up in the airing cupboard
  3. You’ll know your batter is ready when it bubbles and has turned sour – the consistency should be like a thin pancake batter
    • Amateur tip: if you’re not getting a ferment on, and you’re running out of time, you can quicken it up by adding a yeast starter – make this by stirring a tablespoon of yeast and half a teaspoon of sugar into half a cup of hot (but nowhere near boiling) water; wait 5 minutes and you’ll have a nice foamy starter you can gently stir into your batter; after this you shouldn’t have to wait more than an hour or so before it’s usable
  4. When both you and the batter are ready to cook, stir in the salt, and lightly oil a large skillet of frying pan and place over a medium heat – make sure your skillet is lubricated without being greasy
  5. Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the skillet with a thin layer – swirl the batter to the edges as you would with a pancake, by twirling the skillet (yes, do it like a fairy twirling a magic wand)
  6. Cook each injera on one side only – you’ll know it’s done when it forms little holes (from the bubbles as they burst) and the edges start to lift away from the skillet – don’t let it brown, and don’t flip it! (And don’t expect a rise out of your injera – it’s not expected to rise.)
  7. As you plate up your cooked injera, you might want to place a sheet of foil between each piece so they don’t stick together; otherwise, pop them on separate plates right away

Serving suggestion: pop one injera on each dinner guest’s plate, and invite them to ladle a portion of each of your dishes onto the injera (I strongly suggest making your injera the accompaniment to a delicious Ethiopian meal of mesir wat, fossolia, and alicha); serve the extra injera on the side so guests can go back for seconds 😉

Eating suggestion: this is a finger-food meal – the injera is both the plate and the cutlery, so you spoon the dishes onto it, and then tear of fragments of your injera plate with your fingers, scooping up morsels of yummy Ethiopian food with each piece 😀

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