One of things we really like doing is trying out new (to us) foods and sharing the results with friends and family. Way back in December (when we actually wrote this) we made plans to go visit family. The last time we visited, we made up a complete Indian-style dinner. We’ll be the first to admit it probably wasn’t completely authentic, but it was good. And we were able to get a few Indian recipes under our belt (literally and figuratively).
This time, we decided to try to make up an Ethiopian-style dinner based on the dinner we usually have when we eat at one of our local Ethiopian restaurants. We chose Ethiopian partly because it’s different, partly because it’s really good food, and partly because it’s just fun to eat — you eat everything with your hands, by scooping it up in a piece of a flat bread known as injera. Obviously, the first thing we’d have to master would be injera.
We started with a recipe on the Exploratorium’s website but had to change it significantly to match our cooking times and tastes. Try it and let us know what you think.
Makes 4-6 small injera
- 1/4 cup teff flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray for frying
Teff flour was a bit troublesome to find, but it is necessary to make injera. Teff are (is?) the grains from a grass-like plant that grows in Ethiopia and is used widely in that country. You really need teff flour to make anything like real injera. It turns out that Bob’s Red Mill has it in 24-ounce bags and we were able to pick up a bag at the local food co-op.
Measure out dry ingredients. Put teff, flour, salt, baking powder, and yeast in a 2-quart bowl. We choose a 2-quart bowl because it’ll rise in there and we wanted something large enough to contain it. Mix thoroughly with a spoon.
Add water. Add water from the tap, just lukewarm water is fine, since there will be a long rise to develop flavor and allow the yeast to start working. Then stir until you have a very soft and pliable dough.
Cover and rest. Cover up the dough and let the yeast go to work for several hours. We went with about 4 hours. But a few hours more won’t hurt, either. During this time, the gluten will develop and the yeast will cause the dough to double in size.
Add buttermilk. About an hour before you plan to make the injera, add the buttermilk. You need to stir a bit to get all the buttermilk incorporated, mainly because the gluten strands don’t want to separate, but, eventually, they will.
Heat a lightly oiled cast-iron skillet. Heat it on medium-low as though you are making a pancake, because that’s essentially what you are making.
Coat the pan with a thin layer of batter. Cook until surface is full of holes and looks dry, then cover and cook 2 minutes more.
Let cool. Set cooked injera on a towel covered cooling rack while you cook the rest.
Serve with traditional Ethiopian food. Or with any other food you like. Over the next couple of days, we will be putting up some Ethiopian recipes that we’ve worked on until we got them just right.
So, how cool was that? You’ve made a version of the iconic bread of Ethiopia right in your kitchen. We’d say pretty cool, and quite tasty, too. Now, we will say that our injera was a bit crispier than what we’ve been served at Ethiopian restaurants, but sometime crispy is good, too. Overall, we’ll say our recipe gets four stars (we did have to go through some single-star recipes to get here).