My husband introduced me to Ethiopian cuisine almost seven years ago, and I was an instant fan. Ethiopian food is rich in spices, the most common being a blend called Berbere (pronounced " ber-beray"), a mixture which includes ginger, garlic, fiery red chile, salt, fenugreek seeds, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric and garlic. It's used predominately in stews and it is also converted to a paste to flavor meats.
Instead of using utensils, Ethiopians use a sponge like sourdough flat bread called injera, to scoop up their food with their hands. Injera is made from teff flour and is cooked on a griddle to the consistency of a thin flatbread. It is a bit like a crepe but is not egg-based and is more like a thin pancake. The main ingredient, teff, is an ancient grass originally cultivated in Ethiopia and believed to be the smallest grain in the world. Although tiny, it's packed with nutrients. It's rich in calcium, iron, copper aluminum, barium, thiamin -- and it is gluten free. Teff is now also cultivated in the US.
If you've never had Ethiopian food before, I recommend finding a highly-rated restaurant in your area and starting off with a veggie & meat combo (most restaurants offer one).This will give you a perfect taste of the most popular dishes.
I taught myself how to make injera almost five years ago because I lived on an island with no Ethiopian restaurants.This recipe is foolproof and delicious. Practice makes perfect, so don't fret if your first piece of injera doesn't come out perfect. By the third one, you'll be a pro.
Note: This recipe is a two day process
Recipe adapted from http://burakaeyae.blogspot.com/search?q=injera
Step 1: Ingredients & Prep
Teff Flour- 2 Cups
Self Rising Flour- 3 Cups
Sour Dough Starter 2 Cups- If you don't want to make your own, contact local bakeries in your area. Chances are they'll sell you some or even give it to you for free.
Luke Warm Water
1 teaspoon Salt
Lefse Grill - Non-Stick
Plastic Container w/ lid
Suffid or flat plastic cutting board for removing injera from the grill. The plastic might bend a little, but it does the trick.
Step 2: Make the Teff Starter
In a large bowl, add two cups of sourdough starter and two cups of Teff flour. Using your hands, incorporate the starter into the flour and knead well. Continue to knead until the dough forms into a ball, about 10 min. Then add 1/4 cup of luke warm water to the dough. Knead to incorporate the water. By the second addition of water, the consistency will be similar to clay. Continue adding water, 1/4 cup at a time until the final consistency is watery and the mixture slides right of your fingers. Place the batter in a airtight container and cover overnight.
Step 3: Blend the Teff Starter
The texture of the teff starter will be really gritty. The purpose of this step is to remove the grit.
In the morning, stir the teff starter and transfer to a blender one cup at a time. Blend on med/high until no more of the grit remains. It took me between 8-10 minutes to remove all the grit. To test that you have the right consistency, place two of your fingers in the blender ( when it's turned off) and dip in the mixture. When you rub your fingers together, the batter should feel smooth and almost grit free. It's impossible to remove all of the grit, but you can get close enough.
Step 4: Self-Rising Flour/ Blend
Place 3 cups of self-rising flour in a bowl. This is pretty much the same process as the starter. Add water one cup at a time and incorporate the flour into the water. Keep adding water until the batter is thin and watery and slides of your fingers. Transfer flour mixture to a blender and blend for a minute or until mixture is free of lumps.
Transfer to a plastic container.
Step 5: Blend /Rise & Refridgerate
Transfer the starter mixture to the container with your self- rising flour mixture. Using your hands, gently combine the two mixtures.
Leave on the counter top to rise for a few hours. After the dough rises, cover and place in the refrigerator for 45 up to 1 hour.
Step 6: Cook the Injera
Makes approx : 7 Injera
In Ethiopia, injera is cooked on a mitad, or a clay fire pit. Here in the US, the closet you're going to get is a lefse grill. I've heard of people using a skillet but I'm not sure of the results. If you're serious about making injera, your best bet is to invest in one of these grills. The good news, is that it's a multipurpose grill and you can cook just about anything on it from bacon & eggs to pizza & hamburgers.
Pre-heat your grill to 475 degrees. Place 1/2 teaspoon of salt on the lefse grill and using a damp cloth, rub the salt over the grill. Next, fill a measuring cup with one cup of batter and pour it onto the center of the grill. ** You must work fairly quickly in the next steps** Next, pick up the grill by the handles and gently rotate it so that the batter spreads evenly to the edges of the grill in a complete circle. Place the grill back on a flat surface and cover. When you see steam rising from the grill, your injera is ready. Use a suffid or flat cuttiing board to remove from the grill and set aside to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Note: After you have made two injera, I recommend adding more salt and rubbing it in with a damp cloth again.
Injera are typically served at room temperature. You can choose to heat yours up before serving if you prefer it warm.
Step 7: How to Eat Ethiopian Food
Ethiopian food is eaten with your hands, using injera to grab the food from a (usually shared) serving platter. The first step is to tear off a piece of injera about the size of your palm. Next, place the torn piece of injera over some of the food you want to eat and then pinch the injera with your fingers -- pushing through the injera to pick up some of the food. Lift the food to your mouth and place food and injera in your mouth together. Repeat until you are full!