Injera is a spongy, slightly sour flatbread from Ethiopia and Eritrea, considered to be the national dish of these two countries. Much like the Indian dosa, it is a “plate”on a plate, with various dishes being piled on it and, using one’s fingers, one breaks off little pieces of the injera to scoop it all up.
Traditionally made with Teff flour, you are just as likely to find Injera made with wheat flour, rice flour or a combination of any of these two; for the simple reason that teff, being the world’s smallest grain, is fairly expensive. In my home of course, my kids find the taste of teff a little too strong, so I definitely go down the half and half route.
My Ethiopian culinary introduction began in London when, for a year or so, I had an Ethiopian couple staying next to me. We became fast friends and loved cooking with each other; and on the odd occasion when I didn’t have a date (yes, it happened), I’d volunteer to babysit their two boys.
They taught me how to cook Injera, make my own Berbere, various Wat (wett/stews) recipes, what distinguishes one wat from another, a priceless education, because East and West African cooking was the final frontier for me!
The traditional Injera batter is made then left to stand for 2-3 days, resulting in a strong, sour smell, much like sourdough but much more pungent. My kids absolutely detest it, which is why I use the quick method more often than not. It’s only when I’m having a arty that I go down the malodorous route!
I’ll give you both methods here.
- 500g teff flour
- OR half and half with plain flour or rice flour
- 1l water
- 1 tsp salt
- vegetable oil or ghee for cooking, as needed
- 220g teff flour
- 220g plain flour or rice flour
- OR 220g each of rice & plain flour
- 2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 800ml - 1litre warm water
- 120ml very hot water, just off the boil is perfect
- Sift flour into a large bowl.
- Gradually add the water, stirring gently, continuously with a wooden spoon, to mix. It should have the consistency of slightly thicker than usual crêpe batter. You might not need all the water.
- Let the batter now sit for 2-3 days, at which point, you'll get a sour smell, much like sourdough.
- Add the salt & stir to combine, mixing in any liquid floating at the top.
- I was taught that the easiest way to control the amount of batter poured, was to use a jug with a small pot or even a small coffee/tea pot, because you're aiming for a thin layer. So transfer the batter into your chosen receptacle.
- Grease a skillet or frying pan, pour the batter on, thicker than a crêpe but thinner than a pancake! Twirl the skillet to help the batter spread. It may take you a few go's to get it right but that's what it's all about.
- Cook until you see air pockets/holes appearing, about 30 seconds, then cover and cook for another minute, at which point, there'll be lots of steam fighting to escape and when you lift the lid up, you'll see that the injera is beginning to curl at the edge.
- Slide the Injera onto a large plate, as opposed to lifting with a spatula, the latter will just tear it.
- In a large bowl, mix the yeast with a little bit of the warm batter and stir to combine.
- Add whichever 2 flours you're using, along with the salt.
- Gradually, add more warm water, stirring with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter, this time the consistency of thick pancake batter. Again, you may not need all the water.
- Cover with cling film and let stand for 1 hour.
- After an hour, the batter would have increased slightly, give it a stir and pour the hot water, stirring constantly, until you get the thick crêpe batter we mentioned in the traditional method.
- Let stand for 20 minutes, then proceed to cook as above.
PLUS 1 hour and 20 minutes resting time.
Traditionally served with Ethiopian stews and vegetables, this will go with all manner of curries & Indian sides. As seen in the picture, you place it on a plate and top with whatever you're serving it with. Alternatively, roll and cut at a diagonal to allow diners to help themselves to the roti.