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note of caution–
this is an impatient woman’s guide to injera: aka, I use what I can find (wheat flour) and take shortcuts when possible (as little wait time as possible)!
Once, in a pubescent season of mediocre geometry quizzes and short boyfriends, I found myself at an Ethiopian restaurant. I didn’t give a squat for what we were eating–though it was delicious and oh-so-succulent. I was more interested in the people walking down Haight Street; my best friend and I giggled about them, and dropped sugar packets surreptitiously at their feet (don’t ask, we
were are weird).
In Oakland the other day, I had to find an affordable and lovely restaurant at which to meet my mommy. (The treasured words, “why don’t we grab a bite to eat while we’re down there?” were all I needed to hear.) Friends recommended Cafe Colucci, a small but celebrated spot on Alcatraz and Telegraph. The friendly staff and mouthwatering aromas provided the perfect excuse to order big, which–for two frugal ladies–is a Veggie Combo.
No silverware, no problem.
The fantastic fillings (kale, lentil, eggplant, potato, cauliflower: all with fantastic and unfamiliar spice combos) sat on a spongy sheet of what is known as Injera–Ethiopian flat bread.
Injera is made with a grain known as teff, which is fermented for some time before being cooked on a griddle much like a crepe (only one side, though).
quick injera at home
- First, you must create some sort of sourdough starter–you may want to read this fantastic post by Debra at Culiblog for help on that…basically, you let your flour/water batter mixture hang out in a warmish place, either fermenting from wild yeast in the air or you can “cheat” and add some storebought stuff. Either way, things will get sour in a few days to a week.
- When your starter’s in top-notch sourness, measure out a sizeable amount–1/4 C to 1/2 C–intuit this based upon how many breads you want to make.
- Whisk together your starter plus water, salt, and more flour to reach a crepe-batter consistency.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or griddle, and release 1/4 cup scoop of your batter.
- Mark Bittman says, “Bear in mind that the first crepe almost never works, even for professionals, so discard if necessary”–this runs true for injera too, so don’t despair!
- You want to swirl the pan enough so you get a nice thin layer–think somewhere between tortilla and crepe consistency.
- Cover the bread as it cooks, bubbling a bit and rising a little–then remove from heat and plate!
- You can stuff these with almost anything–their sourdough tartness is nice, and can be accented with other acidic foods like lime juice and tomato.
- Try adding potato curry, stir-fried kale, or caramelized onions!
(this is a quickie starter-version for those of us impatient folks: for more in-depth steps and authenticity, check some of these fantastic resources)
- Burakaeyae–probably the best injera guide I’ve found!
- The Guardian: Secret to Cooking Injera
- Making Injera, clarified